By Russ Ramsey
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point I started ending my prayers by thanking God for His kindness to us in Christ. If you are part of the church I pastor, you hear me say it at some point in every service. It was never an intentional thing—more of a response. But the older I get, the more I associate the essence of the gospel with kindness.
For us to understand this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives, we should ask how it works in God. God’s kindness that leads to peace is intensely relational. It’s about more than being nice. It’s about being aware of others and relationally accessible and available to them.
For us, that looks like thinking of others before ourselves (Philippians 2:1–4). Kindness desires and pursues another’s well-being. It is seeing when someone you know is hurting, perhaps at church, and not walking past them, but stopping to see how they are. Kindness is marked by careful listening and general warmth, giving the gift of unhurried time to others.
The Holy Spirit works to bear this fruit in the character and actions of His people so that we might reflect this aspect of God’s character as light in a dark world. For this to happen, the Holy Spirit must also uproot things growing in our hearts in the place of kindness. Just as there is fruit of the Spirit, so there are weeds of the flesh—weeds the Holy Spirit uproots so that His fruit may flourish. What opposes kindness in your heart? You might say meanness, but it’s not that simple. Because kindness is so relational, the opposing weeds to the fruit of kindness are not meanness, but disconnection and ambivalence. Kindness grows in the place of not caring.
Can you see the gospel in the Holy Spirit’s promise to grow kindness in us? The Spirit desires to move us from ambivalence toward others to a kindness that leads to peace. This begins with our relationship with God. Because of His kindness toward us in Christ, we can know we are at peace with Him, and live in the confidence of that peace. Because “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us” from our sin and ourselves (Titus 3:4–5). This freedom enables us to engage our hearts with others—to live relationally connected lives. Rather than being disconnected and ambivalent, we become vessels through which His kindness flows to others.
Kindness is the art of seeing people as they really are, esteeming their worth as God does, and seeking to love them in ways that build up and nurture peace. And this is exactly what the Lord has done for us in Christ.
Written by Russ Ramsey