‘Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that.’
-Jean Baptiste Lacordaire
Fifth on the list of ingredients that make up the fruit of the Spirit, is kindness. Although kindness is synonymous with such words as generosity, sympathy, humanity, benevolence and tenderness, it also encapsulates one of God’s attributes. Yes, God is kind, and we see His kindness manifest both in nature, in His judgments, in His teachings, and in His relation with mankind.
Psalm 85:12-13, “Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.”
God’s heart is filled with kindness, and He gives what is good. However, God’s kindness is tempered by God’s sovereign righteousness, wherein He gives what is good to those who follow in His footsteps, who pursue Him, and desire to know Him more fully.
We cannot surrender our hearts to evil, and continue to live with the expectation of receiving what is good from God. We cannot reject righteousness, and sanctification, and then get angry when the land does not yield its increase. Whether man acknowledges it or not, everything in this universe is wholly dependent upon the kindness of God. As He spoke the universe into existence, He can just as easily speak it out of existence. His tenderness and sympathy however, keep Him from pouring out His wrath in the measure that mankind truly deserve.
Although God shows kindness, and kindness is also one of the components of the fruit of the Spirit, countless Christians today are lacking it. We show no sympathy, no tenderness, not even the humanity that is commonplace in the word when we proceed to savage and tear down each other, as though it were a national sport. I have no problem with standing firm against a false doctrine, I have no problem with defending truth and being bold in proclaiming Biblical teaching, I do it often and vociferously so. What I do have a problem with is the glee and abandon with which Christians eviscerate other Christians, because they disagree with them on a personal level.
Kindness has been stricken from the hearts of many believers, and replaced with the overwhelming need to build themselves up by tearing others down.
‘You pray standing up instead of on your knees? Well, then Ichabod, Ichabod, the glory has departed. You are hereby and forthwith banned from the halls of heaven!’
No one ever questions who appointed such people to be heaven’s gatekeepers, or if they are self appointed; no one points out the fact that it is unbecoming to use a hatchet when a scalpel will do; no one looks for evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in the hateful vitriol that passes for discernment, because let’s face it we all like carnage. That’s why people slow down when they see an accident.
If only God were as unkind in His judgment, as we are of our fellow brothers! I wonder how many would have the temerity to pray and ask God to judge them with the same kindness that they judged others?
Philippians 2:12-16, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
Rather than strive to imitate the Samaritan who saw the broken, bleeding, half dead man by the side of the road and had compassion on him, we emulate the priest, the Levite, and sometimes even the thieves who strike out and wound with indifference anyone who happens to land in our crosshairs. We go through every word, and every syllable the person has ever uttered hoping to find something, anything, that we can twist, or that we happen to disagree with, and then with blind fury and zealous determination we attack.
Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? Do all things without grumbling and arguing that we might become blameless and harmless children of God? Hold fast to the word of life? No time for such things, too busy kicking wounded half dead men about the head and shoulders as they lay in the dirt by the side of the road, all the while wearing our ‘what would Jesus do?’ bracelets.
What separates our reactions from the gleeful reactions of the world when one is felled by the enemy due to either absence of watchfulness, indifference, or sin? We ought not revel, but rather mourn. Another soldier has fallen, another bruise has been dealt to the body of Christ, and another victory checked off by the enemy. We must continually and ceaselessly search our hearts for those hidden sins that can pollute a man as readily as the sins of the flesh and remind ourselves that we are His children because of His abundant grace. Not because we were better, or came from a more proper lineage, but because God showed us grace, and it is in His grace that we walk every day toward eternity.
Luke 13:2-5, “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
It is time to once again embrace kindness; it is time to once again be image bearers of Jesus; it is time to be more concerned with healing the wounded, than exterminating them.
Matthew 11:29, “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.”
There is a cost to possessing kindness that too few are willing to pay nowadays, and that is the sacrifice of our personal pretensions, our self-importance, and unjustified demands of distinction and merit. If there is any good in us it is Jesus; if there is anything remarkable in us, it is Christ. If we claim to be of Christ, may we also walk in the footsteps of Christ, trusting in Him, leaning on Him.
The Pharisees aren’t dead; they just redefined their job descriptions, sitting in judgment of everyone, everywhere, appropriating the authority and sovereignty of God unto themselves.
If you desire to possess the fruit of the spirit, if you desire to possess kindness, weep with those who weep, feel for those who are hurting, comfort those who are mourning, mend those who are broken, and defer all merit, all distinction, all glory all honor to Jesus Christ the Son of God.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.