Following on the heels of patience (or forbearance) in this series, is the Spirit’s fruit of kindness.
“The fruit of the Spirit is kindness.”
Kindness manifests in acts of benevolence toward others. Kind behavior wrought by the Spirit tangibly and noticeably extends favor to those in need with a glad heart. Simply put, kindness is taking delight in being helpful. It is the antithesis of selfishness and is always behavior that is others-focused.
- The Spirit’s kindness is characteristic of divine love and cannot be humanly manufactured. “Love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). When someone says “that was kind” they are witnessing not merely a human act, but a human act inspired by love. To be kind by helping others is to be loving toward them and vice versa.
- Though a product of God’s Spirit, all believers must intentionally pursue kindness. It must be a distinguishing mark of God’s people. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with…kindness” (Col 3:12). As previously mentioned, the metaphor of “clothing ourselves” is not random. Just as clothing is distinguishes our physical appearance in the presence of others, so must kindness highlight our spiritual presence to them. Each act of intentional benevolence moves us one step closer to developing a character of kindness. And, the converse is equally true.
- The Spirit’s kindness goes hand-in-hand with forgiveness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32). It is impossible to forgive anyone and not extend kindness to them. Forgiveness entails being kind toward those who offend (pending their repentance; see Luke 17:3).
- The Spirit’s kindness includes our speech. “When we are slandered, we answer kindly” (1 Cor 4:13). It is natural to lash out at those who speak ill of us. It is supernatural to respond kindly, and doing so gladly.
- The Spirit’s kindness is not partial but extends to all people, just as God is kind to all. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Lk 6:35). “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17; see also Rom 2:4).
- The Spirit’s kindness is expressed regardless of any chance for reciprocation. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4–5). Just as God unconditionally extends kindness to us in salvation, despite the fact that we deserve only judgment and no favor whatsoever, we must show the same to others.