The world in which we live can be a cruel place, and kindness stands out like a thousand points of light against a dark background of animosity, hatred, and indifference. But God wants us to transform the world by bearing the fruit of kindness.
Despite his busy schedule during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow who was near death. “Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say.
The letter read, “My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.”
Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The lad feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.1
What Lincoln offered the young soldier was nothing less than the fruit of kindness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Acts of kindness in everyday life heal and restore faith in the goodness of God and man. The Lord labors daily through the Holy Spirit to increase the amount of kindness in the world. The Holy Spirit desires to work with everyone, but especially those who are born again, to exhibit the fruit of kindness. But if we don't cooperate, he won't force the issue since he gave us free will. The fruit of kindness turns the tide against the indifference and cruelty that are in the world.
The New Testament word “kindness” is translated in the passage above from the Greek chrestotes. It is a warmhearted attitude of mercy and benevolence that produces a grateful response in others. A kind person is useful, considerate, understanding, and not judgmental.
God is kind.
Luke 6:35–36 “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
God is kind to the unthankful and evil and wants us to do the same. When we love our enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return, we exhibit the fruit of kindness. Jesus said our reward would be great, and we would be known as the sons of the Most High.
Do not let other people’s behavior determine yours.
How people respond to you should have nothing to do with how you respond to them. The love of God has been poured out in your hearts by the Holy Spirit, so you can be merciful to others, just as your heavenly Father also is merciful. Romans 5:5.
God’s nature is to love, just like the sun’s nature is to radiate light, warmth, and heat. (Matthew 5:44-45) We are to radiate the love and kindness of God, and just as the sun does not change its shining based on people’s response (“It’s too hot.” Or, “It’s too cold.”), so we are to be kind to all regardless of how they respond to us.
This requires a radical rethinking and relearning of our most basic responses to people. In fact, it requires a transfusion of the love of God flowing in our veins. We live in a world that says, “If you treat me bad, then I will treat you bad, or worse.” How can we be different than the world unless we become like God, who is kind to the unthankful and evil?
Christians born of their heavenly Father are to imitate His kindness.
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.
It’s when we put on the fruit of kindness, mercy, and love that we imitate the Father and make a difference in the lives of others. We will not live forever, and the second we die we will no longer be able to do kind things for anyone on earth. So let’s take full advantage of our time down here and imitate the One whose kindness led us to repentance, and who promises “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)
Alexander MacLaren said it so succinctly, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.”
Question: Please take a moment and share in the Comments section below how your life has been impacted by the kindness of others. What steps will you take this week to show kindness, perhaps undeserved kindness, to someone else?
1Source unknown. Retrieved from https://bible.org/node/10976