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 is one of those words that, in the Greek, has a layered sense. The word for kindness has the sense of moral excellence. But it also carries a sense of being useful as well being gentle. So how can one be upright, helpful, and gentle at the same time?
To be kind isn’t to simply be non-confrontational or approachable. It means to be willing to help in ways that aren’t abrasive and model the love Christ showed to the world. To be kind isn’t merely an an attitude; it’s an action that reveals grace in tangible, practical ways.
The movie Pay It Forward depicts the very spirit behind kindness. In the movie, a young boy changes the world around him by showing small but impactful, unassuming but exemplary acts of compassion. And then that spirit inspires others to do the same. A church in Cincinnati tried to put that same spirit into practice and it became their lifeblood, as “servant evangelism” transformed their congregation.
Kindness can be as simple as tucking an extra $10 into the cashier’s hand and asking them to apply that to the next person in line’s bill. But kindness doesn’t require a big budget either. Helping someone carry a large object they can’t manage on their on, or mowing a feebler neighbor’s lawn are great ways to show kindness.
Of course, worldly kindness is something others do often with expectations of reciprocity. They want to benefit from something from you later. But when done in Jesus’ name, kindness is freely given, just like all God’s gifts. No strings attached. Kindness can pave the way for people to regard you with trust, even potentially open the door for a hearing about our Lord’s love for them. But even then, such reactions aren’t mandatory. The godly love behind kindness means showing kindness for that person’s sake. Being kind as an expression of Jesus’ love is sufficient. If it produces fruit in terms of that person’s openness to the Good News later, so much the better.
A timely way to show kindness is to get involved in St George’s Food Pantry. Right now, our Food Pantry is staffed by and large with people outside our parish rolls. This is wonderful! But we’d love to see more faces that call our church home lending a hand as able. We also have other volunteer opportunities as well with care of the grounds, altar guild, and streaming tech operation. Be kind and lend a practical, gentle hand of love.
Gracious Savior, whose kindness to us is seen in the loving care you show to all, and the gifts of grace you grant all who trust in you: form us to be kindly affectioned to all that the world may see your love expressed in your people. Amen.