Sunday Word of the Week: Fruit of the Spirit, Kindness

By Elizabeth Prata

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

kindness here in Greek (xrēstótēs) means a useful kindness, referring to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing (fashion). Hence 5544 (xrēstótēs) is listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). With the believer, 5544 /xrēstótēs (“divine kindness”) is the Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids human harshness (cruelty). Strong’s

People have shown me kindness before in the big things in meeting physical needs, which is always amazing and welcome. Kindness shown in the little things too, are also a welcome act and often more precious than the big acts. A hug well-timed, a kind word, a surprise donation, a small gift for no reason, deference shown, restraint in a tough situation, all these are kindnesses. Below in Further Resources, Alistair Begg preaches that kindness softens peoples’ hearts to hear the Gospel.

At Ligonier, we read that patience and kindness are tied together. Excerpt:

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Prov. 21:21).

As we continue our study of Christian character, let us remember that the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22–23 provides a helpful way to see if we are imitating Christ. Jesus alone perfectly displayed these fruits in His life, and we must strive to do the same if we have trusted in Him. As we seek to follow the example of Christ, we must recognize that we are able to follow Him on account of the Holy Spirit. …

The Lord has not only been patient to us, He has been kind. Therefore, we must mimic this kindness in our dealings with other people. We must avoid the temptation to be petty in our dealings with other people. We must overlook minor faults in love, and we will only be able to do this when we are patient, recognizing that not every situation is equally deserving of our correction.

In Acts 28:2 we read that

The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.

They showed us not little kindness. So far were they from making a prey of this shipwreck, as many, I fear, who are called Christian people, would have done, that they laid hold of it as an opportunity of showing mercy. …

When in the extremities of bad weather we find ourselves fenced against the rigours of the season, by the accommodations of a warm house, bed, clothes, and a good fire, we should think how many lie exposed to the present rain, and to the cold, and pity them, and pray for them, and help them if we can. ~Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

The Maltese people came out in the torrential rain to serve and save those drenched sailors washed up on shore. It was winter, cold, storming, and these people put themselves out in order to show kindness. There were several hundred sailors, on commenter says. It must have been no small thing to mount a bonfire large enough to warm all of them, and in the drenching winter rain, too.

In the end, kindness defined is simple but doing it Christ’s way is hard. We must meet needs (extravagantly) and avoid harshness (at all times). Be kind.

Further Resources

Alistair Begg sermon – Cultivating Kindness

Ligonier Devotional – A Call to Kindness

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