The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
Day 7: Kindness
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love.” - Ephesians 4:29-5:2 (NIV)
The Greek word used here, chréstotés, encompasses the meanings of the English kindness and gentleness. It is love in action, serving others in concrete, practical ways. Just like the other fruit, God models kindness to us (Eph 2:7, Titus 3:4) and we are to show kindness to others, as well as to ourselves. In the passage above, kindness is contrasted with rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, and unwholesome talk. It is an attitude of the heart, manifested in words and actions.
There is a saying, “Practice random acts of kindness,” and in that spirit people will do things like paying for the coffee of the next person in line at a Starbucks drive-through. There is nothing wrong with that, but we should also look to practice very specific, well-thought out acts of kindness. These start with paying attention. Look carefully at the people around you, and see what their needs are, and consider if it is in your power to meet those needs, fully or partially. Some may need words of encouragement or a listening ear. Some may need financial help. Some may need help with cooking, cleaning, or childcare, help fixing things around the house, help getting their technology to work properly.
We all have something to offer. As Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I often feel discouraged because I see so much financial need – my own, my family’s and friends’, and the world’s, and wish that my health made it possible to work more hours to contribute to that need. But then I remember that my deep gladness and my gifts lie in reading, studying, and writing, prayer and meditation, gentle listening and encouragement, creative problem solving, and introducing people to each other. So I try to show kindness to others in those ways.
What are your gifts, and your skills, and how can you use them to show kindness to others? Can you think of specific needs in your community that you may be able to meet? Are there ways in which you are being unkind to yourself?
About The Author
Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.