I think we can all relate to a moment in our life when an unexpected or undeserved kindness changed the course of the moment we were facing. A bad day turned good by the kindness of a generous, smiling face assisting you with the flat tire change, and a big umbrella (when you had forgotten your own) in the rainy night. A warm hug, a cup of coffee and a shoulder to cry on when you’re sad, and words won’t do. Checking out at the grocery story, children crying ready to leave and THEN you rummage through your purse, short the right amount of change and you see the lovely lady in line behind you present a nickel and a big smile, “I’ve been there before, too, “she reassures you. Oh, these beautiful daily kindnesses! How they can shape our days! And, not simply our days, but our very lives. Not only to receive, but in the act of giving. I was reading an interesting article by a Dr David Hamilton who suggests five side effects of kindness, 1)Kindness makes us happier, 2) Kindness gives us healthier hearts, 3) Kindness slows ageing, 4) Kindness makes for better relationships, 5) Kindness is contagious. Life changing stuff, friends.
So, how is kindness defined? One of my very favorite writers/speakers is Dr Tim Keller, gives us this definition in his expository study of Galatians;
Chrestotes = kindness, which is an ability to serve others practically in a way which makes me vulnerable, which comes from having a deep inner security. Its opposite is envy, which leaves me unable to rejoice in another’s joy. And its fake alternative is manipulative good deeds, doing good for others so I can congratulate myself and feel I am “good enough” for others or for God.
The beauty of this fruit of the spirit, and all the fruits of the spirit the verses in Galatians listed, is that this outflow does not rely on our ability, it is a flow from the spirit of God which resides in us! Dr Tim Keller, also reminds us; “In normal religion, the motivation for morality is fear-based. In gospel Christianity, the motivation is a dynamic of love…And now, Paul spells out just how we grow in character through this new dynamic. And his headline is: We grow as we battle…To be “led by the Spirit” (v 18) is to change, and be changed, to be the people we want to be. The Spirit-fuelled development of Christ-like character is liberating, because it brings us closer to being the people we were designed to be, the people our Spirit-renewed hearts want us to be…We are saved by faith, not by growing fruit; but we are not saved by fruitless faith. A person saved by faith will be a person in whom the fruit of the Spirit grows…The fruit of the Spirit has internal roots. It is not about traits or characteristics. It is about a change much deeper than that. Think about an apple tree. Do the apples on the tree make it alive? No – if you tied apples onto a dead tree’s branches, that wouldn’t make it alive! The apples don’t give life; they are a sign that the tree is alive. But the life produces the fruit; not the other way around…It is worth looking closely at each aspect of the singular fruit of the Spirit (v 22-23):”
What kindness our Saviour has freely, unexpectedly, and undeservingly shown us! Just ponder that for a moment, search Him out, talk to Him about where you are right now. When He appears in our life, everything changes. Stay connected to the source. Dig your roots deep, deep, deep into His loving kindness.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”