As a fruit of the Spirit, and a part of what it means to be like Christ, kindness is also an attribute of God.
- God is kind to all of his creatures. This is what theologians call common grace; that is, it is common to all—even those who reject Christ.
- The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:45 are an example of common grace: “For [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
- According to the apostle Paul, writing in Romans 2:4, it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. It is not God’s harsh pressure that brings us to salvation, but His kindness, which works alongside His patience (the fruit we learned about last Sunday).
- Therefore, since it is the kindness of God that leads us to the repentance that results in salvation, kindness is most appreciated by those who are saved. And not only is it the kindness of God that leads us to salvation, but day-by-day we continue to see multitude ways in which God is kind to us.
God is even kind to his enemies, as Jesus says in Luke 6:32-36.
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
When you find a Christian who is truly humble and kind to all you have found a jewel, since kindness is less common than we realize. I laughed out loud when I read how one Bible dictionary defines kindness. Kindness is an “attribute of God and quality desirable but not consistently found in humans.” Sadly, this is true. We live in a mean world. But what is most grievous of all is when those who claim to be followers of Christ are downright mean-spirited and unkind. Brothers and sisters, it should not be this way. Of all people in the world, we should be models of kindness.
The definition that I will use in this blog post is from one of my systematic theology textbooks: “Kindness is expressed as a tender, gentle concern for others that actively seeks out ways to serve them.” (Biblical Doctrine, page 376).
These expressions of kindness are present in the tender ministry of Christ, who did not come to be served, but to serve. Jesus was tender, not harsh. The only exception to this was when He was dealing with the religious leaders who opposed the authority of God and His Word. His kind and gentle spirit is especially made clear in the only place in the Four Gospels where Jesus describes himself.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
This kind of gentleness is a mark of Christlikeness. According to 2 Corinthians 6:6, kindness is also a mark of an authentic minister of the gospel. In the first letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul described the ministry that he and his companions had this way:
For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.1 Thessalonians 2:7
If we are to be like Christ then we must grow the fruit of kindness. In Ephesians 4:32 we are commanded to be kind to one another, as part of the outworking of the gospel in our hearts.
Four Truths about the Fruit of Kindness
In this passage of Scripture there are four truths about kindness, which God wants you to understand and apply to your life.
- Kindness reveals new life in Christ (Eph. 4:25-29).
- Kindness requires help from the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).
- Kindness replaces harmful deeds of the flesh (Eph. 4:31-32).
- Kindness reflects the love of God (Eph. 5:1-2).
Kindness is very important to God. It is an area of character development that He expects us to authentically display as fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. It is a mark of spiritual growth and maturity. And so important is kindness to God that He says it is more important than performing religious sacrifices to Him.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?Micah 6:8