Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness in action

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Kindness….

The words “kind” and “nice” are words that are used frequently when molding young children. We tell them to be kind to their peers, to play nice, to be a friend… Yet speaking the words will never replace kindness in action- modeling it for our children in everyday life. And, as is the case for the fruits we’ve studied thus far, putting on kindness can be a challenge.

Kindness goes hand in hand with those other fruits we’ve learned about- kindness is a response of love for another person. Kind people tend to exude joy and have peace in trying circumstances. And, without a doubt, being kind definitely requires patience! Kindness is a daily choice we make, but it’s a natural choice when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Living a life of kindness is living a life in God’s power, submitting to His power and authority, and putting to death our sinful nature (see Colossians 3:1-8).

The Bible is full of examples of individuals who exhibited kindness. I Samuel 25 speaks of Abigail, the woman who met David with kindness and encouraged him to not act in his anger. The book of Ruth gives the story of the relationship between Ruth and Naomi, a relationship exemplifying kindness to one another. Joshua introduces us to the prostitute Rahab- an unlikely candidate for showing kindness, but her example teaches that we don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. We just have to be willing. In Luke chapter 10 we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, and of course we can read any account of Jesus’ life on earth to see kindness in action.

I stumbled across this list of Biblical characteristics of kindness according to the Scriptures. It’s a great “self-check” for us as believers, but also a great reference point for teaching our children about kindness according to God’s word.

One is kind when:

  1. he is honest in his dealings (Genesis 21:23)
  2. he rewards good received from another (Genesis 40:14)
  3. he is sympathetic and comforting (Job 6:14)
  4. he exhibits honorable behavior (Ruth 3:10)
  5. he shares another’s burdens (1 Samuel 15:6)
  6. he shows friendship (1 Samuel 20:15, 16)
  7. he honors the dead (2 Samuel 2:5)
  8. he is merciful toward his enemies (2 Samuel 9:7)
  9. he demonstrates loyalty (2 Samuel 16:17)
  10. he shows gratitude (1 Kings 2:7)
  11. he has compassion (Jonah 4:2)
  12. he is benevolent (Luke 6:35)
  13. he is courteous (Acts 27:3)
  14. he is hospitable (Acts 28:2)
  15. he is forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)

(Copied from http://www.bibletalk.net/articles/kindness.html by Jeff Asher)

Kindness opens the door to ministering to others. If we want to share the love of Christ with others, we must begin by showing kindness and meeting immediate needs. For us moms, this begins at home. What do our children see when they look at us? Here are some questions that I have been asking myself lately that have opened the door to some real heart checks…

  • Do my children see me serving others with a happy heart? (At home with them and their dad, with other family members, in church, in the community, in line at the grocery store, driving down the road, etc…)
  • Do my children hear me apologize when I do wrong, be it to them, my husband, or someone outside of our home?
  • Do my children hear or see me forgive when someone has wronged me?
  • How often do my children see me lose my patience with a person or a task or a situation?
  • Am I actively listening to my children and my husband? (Making eye contact, affirming what is being said, with no distractions)
  • Am I involving my children in praying for others in need and in serving in various capacities?
  • Do I show compassion not only to outsiders, but to my children in my home on a daily basis?
  • What tone of voice do my children hear most often from me? What tone do I use in discipline? What tone do I use to respond to them (even if they’ve asked the same question or called my name a million times in that hour)?

I could go on and on, but the point is that actions speak louder than words. To teach our children to be kind, we must be kind. And we must be kind not only to the outside world, but to those who are near and dear to us. Kindness is a lifestyle that must begin at home.

 Ephesians 4:32… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Matthew 7:12… So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Proverbs 19:22… That which makes a man to be desired is his kindness; and a poor man is better than a liar.

Proverbs 31:6… She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.

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