But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22,23
In 2019, I felt compelled to spend some time venturing into the Fruit of The Spirit; a topic which I feel is relevant for all believers. This has been my most ambitious blog series to date; 10 blogs in all with the introductory post and the 9 individual fruits as well. I’ll be cross-referencing previous posts on this topic from time-to-time as there is a great amount of overlap. As mentioned before, it seems each fruit seems to uphold and reinforce each of the other traits. It’s hard to really posses one fruit without possessing them all. Certainly, we have areas we are more naturally drawn to and others in which we struggle. Since Christ has shown us what all of these look like, He is the lens through which we examine the fruit.
Speaking of overlap, in this back-half of the 9 fruits, we have 3 which seem very similar: kindness (this week), goodness (next week) and gentleness (coming up after faith). My challenge has been to look at each fruit individually and especially not to just lump these 3 together as 1 characteristic. As such, I believe kindness is a bit different from goodness and gentleness and I hope you’ll see why as we go along. Jesus is the ultimate display and I think the Bible does a wonderful job showing us how He models each word as Paul characterizes it in Galatians.
My true heart in this series is to point to Christ and in so doing, allow self-examination to surface in our lives. We don’t naturally exhibit any of these things. Let me repeat: none of us are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or self-controlled apart from Christ. Yes the world may show a measure of each of these outside of faith in Jesus. But what is it based upon? What is the higher aim? If not Christ, I believe it is empty and void.
Guys I can’t wait for these last 5 weeks to unfold. I hope you are as excited as I am to dive in again. Here we go!
1. Jesus’ displays kindness to those who don’t deserve it
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
It would take a long time but it would be a worthwhile study to go through the Gospels and catalog each occurrence in which Jesus displayed kindness in His ministry. Of those times, we could rank from 0-10 (0 being least deserving, 10 being most deserving), how much a particular character deserved receiving Jesus’ kindness. The fact is however, no individual had priority to any other in receiving a miracle, restoration, forgiveness, and the like. All those to whom Christ was kind were sinful and without merit before Him. Yet He chose to be kind to them.
I love the act of kindness Jesus displays on the cross to a criminal crucified next to Him. From what we can tell, it is probably His last act before dying. With 2 thieves crucified next to Him, there is an exchange that takes place. One, in mocking tone exclaims “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39) But the other, knowing his place before the Savior, takes a posture of repentance: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (vs. 41,42) Jesus had no reason to be kind to this criminal, but He assures him that he will be Him [Jesus] in heaven. An ultimate act of undeserved grace and mercy. True kindness of the heart.
2. Jesus’ kindness is based out of humility
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3
Much of Philippians 2 is about Christ’s humility and our need to model His example. We see that the process of going to the cross for Jesus was based upon humility. He humbled Himself to the Father’s will. He became nothing. He was obedient. He took the nature of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7). Why be motivated to do all of this? I believe it is because His kindness was rooted in humility. His nature is to seek and save the lost. He is all about restoration and recovery of the lost human soul. We see it time and time again in Scripture.
So in this desire to be humble, there really is a way of thinking that flips the world’s understanding of greatness on its head. How do we truly become great in the kingdom? We put on the love and kindness of Christ. We consider others better than ourselves in the hope that we may serve their need and lift their burden as Christ has served us. Again, this thinking runs counter to all the me-first attitudes we see on a daily basis. But model Jesus’ kindness and you won’t help but see others take note.
3. Jesus’ kindness is a sincere love for others
And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
It interesting to experience the heart-change that goes on the more the love and kindness of Christ indwells us. Things we would never have cared about before start to break our hearts. Needs that we see in the world around us begin gnawing at our souls. Who is going to feed them? Who is going to clothe them? Who is going to take of them? Who will adopt them? We begin to see the world through fresh eyes; eyes I believe we are always meant to have before sin and the fall tarnished our view. Christ is the first one to show us how to truly see.
Jesus’ death on the cross is love in action. It is kindness to the ultimate degree. And we are called to walk this path. We know the journey can be difficult. We know the flesh rears its ugly head from time to time and we get more concerned about our rights and our privileges. But the Christian man or woman is called to a different lifestyle. You can see it in chapter after chapter of Matthew through John. Jesus has a sincere love that doesn’t turn away but extends itself time and time again. His acts of kindness are not random and are not by chance. They are intentional and they point to Who He is. We are inhabited by that same Spirit and it calls us to display the same kindness.
So where do we go with a message like this? As I said before, I want this series to produce some reflection and true examination of the soul. Sometimes a look inward is painful. It reveals much of the character that is still not there yet…we see some pretty ugly stuff if we’re honest. But I want to be real with you guys: it’s OK to admit we’re not perfect. It’s alright to say we have short-comings. The only perfect person who lived is Jesus. And on this side of eternity, we are all works in progress.
But on the flip side of that, there is some homework. It’s pretty simple but I’d ask you to read this message and maybe go back to some of these passages and encounter Christ again. In that process, ask God to mold and shape your heart again. Reveal anything that has gone cold and needs reawakening. And in that, ask Him to show you where you can exhibit kindness. Giving without seeking anything in return. As you do, I’d love to hear what God is showing you and how He has spoken to your heart.
I love you guys! I love walking the journey with you. Can’t wait to pick up again next week as we examine the fruit of goodness.
Catch up on all the previous blogs from THE FRUIT series: