This week’s post comes from my very kind friend Emmy…
Kindness. At some point in our lives most of us were taught that we need to be kind to those around us, and maybe we would argue that most of the time we stay true to this expectation. Oh, well I always let one car (and some days even two!) in front of me as they merge onto the 405 during rush hour traffic. I bought my friend a drink when she forgot her wallet at home. I try to be encouraging when my friends are feeling down. So, if it’s a reasonable argument that I’m a pretty nice person most of the time,
What’s the big deal with kindness?
Why is it a fruit of the Spirit?
Although the above examples are all nice things to do, I invite you to consider that there is a depth to kindness that extends beyond niceness. Nice denotes being agreeable, likeable, and good-natured, while kindness is connected to tender-heartedness, generosity, and friendliness. Do you see the subtle difference here? Being nice is in the surface level of relationships, but I would argue that true kindness requires us to draw from the depths of our heart. Now, in a world where everything is going our way, every person understands and loves us, and we likewise perfectly connect with those around us, kindness seems like a simple virtue to live out.
However, you and I both know that our communal and personal worlds are often far from that picture of reality. Our relationships and lives are messy. Very messy. He broke his word and caused me pain. She ditched me for them, even after she promised she wouldn’t. They weren’t there when I needed them to be. If we’re honest, our heart’s first inclination is the farthest thing from kind or love when we’ve been wronged, disappointed, or hurt. How could they do that? What kind of person would say that? All of a sudden, that “kind” heart isn’t so kind. Kindness and love seem unfulfilling, illogical, and counterintuitive in the midst of these moments and the heavy feelings they surface.
So, what’s the big deal with kindness?
The Christian call to kindness, as a manifestation of God’s love (1 Corinthians 13:4), extends to all people, even if they have wronged, disappointed, or hurt us. In the Sermon on the Mount (check out Matthew 5:43-48), Jesus says that anyone can love someone who loves them back, but then challenges his audience by saying that living out his love also means loving our enemies. Jesus argues that as his disciples we are to love those who are against us, those who have caused us pain, those who have wounded us. How can we show kindness that isn’t just an act or facade but is truly kindness from love?
In the midst of our pain, this is a tough calling.
But, our Lord has not left us alone in living out this call.
Not only did Jesus show the ultimate act of love to humanity by suffering on the cross and experience the pain that comes with sacrificial love, but He also didn’t leave us to fend for ourselves in this world. Jesus graciously sent the Holy Spirit to live within us as our counselor, comforter, and helper. As we lean into the Spirit and pursue God’s love, the Lord will transform our hearts and the once hard ground of our hearts will become the soil where He grows His fruit in our lives. The ground of our hearts will continually need to be tilled, worked, watered, and weeded, but He is faithful to bring life that bears fruit. Kindness will grow in us as a manifestation of HIS goodness and love at work in us.
May He do a miraculous work in our hearts and cause the fruit of the Spirit to be abundant within us as a witness of His redemptive love in our lives and for His glory.
Emmy Emminizer is a free spirit at heart who is passionate about deep friendships, building community, mentoring, disengaging apathy, and learning what is means to be a disciple of Jesus. You could often find her enjoying the sunshine on a trail run or at the beach, grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend, or curled up on the couch reading a good book. She is a RN and grad student at Princeton Theological Seminary.