Galatians 5:22 (Kindness)


Tis something, when the day draws to its close,To say, 'Though I have borne a burdened mind, Have tasted neither pleasure nor repose, Yet this remains: to all men, friends or foes, I have been kind.'

Dawson had a good understanding of the importance of kindness. He knew that kindness is supposed to be at the center of Christian living. That's what we see here in our text. Paul writes,

"But the fruit of the Spirit
is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness…”

The great truth we are taught here is that

your life should be characterized by kindness.

You are to be kind. In Colossians 3:12 we are told to clothe ourselves with kindness. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 we are told that,

"Love is patient,
love is kind."

If we have love for others, we will be kind to them.

Now as we look at this virtue of kindness we need to be very clear on what kindness is because there is some confusion on it.

What does it mean to be kind?

What is kindness? One very common definition that you will find in books dealing with kindness and goodness is one like this:

"Kindness is a sincere desire for the happiness of others; goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness. Kindness is the inner disposition, created by the Holy Spirit, that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Goodness is kindness in action—words and deeds."

Now I got that definition out of a excellent Christian book. The only problem is that it isn't true. It's too much of a generalization. This is proved by the fact that the author goes on to contradict himself in the very next paragraph of the book. He writes,

"I tend to think of kindness in terms of our awareness of those around us and the thoughtfulness that we can express to them, almost incidentally. Kindness may be as simple as a smile to a store clerk, a thank you to a waitress, an encouraging word to an elderly person, or a word of recognition to a small child."

So the author gives a definition and then he goes on to contradict it a little bit. He says that kindness is an inner disposition, but that it may express itself in little ways, ways we almost don't think about. Goodness, on the other hand, he describes as

'deliberate deeds that are helpful to others'.

But that just doesn't do justice to the biblical terms. What I want to stress here is that

kindness does express itself in deeds.

It's not just an inner disposition, an inner attitude that may express itself in incidental ways. Quite the contrary, kindness often expresses itself in great deeds.

We see this quite clearly in
Romans 11:22 where the exact Greek word is used. The apostle Paul is there discussing the ingrafting in of the Gentiles. Paul sums up this ingrafting with these words,

"Consider therefore the kindness
and sternness of God:
sternness to those who fell,
but kindness to you,"

The act of ingrafting was God's kindness to the Gentiles. It wasn't just an attitude on His part, but an attitude which expressed itself in deeds.

We see the same thing in
Romans 2:4 where the same Greek word is used again. Paul writes,

"Or do you show contempt
for the riches of his kindness,
tolerance and patience,
not realizing that God's kindness
leads you toward repentance?"

The same Greek word is used (the riches of his 'kindness') and it does not just refer to an inner attitude on God's part. Rather it is equated with actions on God's part- actions that were designed to lead people to repentance. According to Charles Hodge God's kindness (the second 'kindness' in the verse, a different form of the same word root) refers to God's 'giving favors'. John Murray tells us that the gifts of the covenant are one expression of God's kindness referred to here. So what we see is that God's kindness expressed itself in all kinds of ways to sinners. God bestowed upon them an abundance of good things. In doing so He was being kind to them with the design that His kind deeds would lead them to repentance.

Luke 6:32f also tends to confirm this. There we don't have the same Greek word but we do have the same root. Jesus said,

"If you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even 'sinners' love those who love them.
And if you do good to those
who are good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even 'sinners' do that.
And if you lend to those
from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,'
expecting to be repaid in full.
But love your enemies,
do good to them,
and lend to them
without expecting to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High
because he is kind
to the ungrateful and wicked
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

We are to love our enemies and do good to them. Then we will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Kindness there does not just express an attitude on God's part. We are to be like Him. He is kind so we are to love and do good to our enemies.

Now the reason I've spent so much time on this is because I want everyone to be clear that kindness consists of more than just an attitude. You are all familiar with
James 2:15f which reads,

"Suppose a brother or sister
is without clothes and daily food.
If one of you says to him,
'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,'
but does nothing about his physical needs,
what good is it?"

In the same way, you can have a kind attitude toward someone, but for you to be truly kind to them, you need to help them, you need to do good to them. You need to be useful to them.

Thus I would define kindness as love's actions.

Or as someone else has put it, kindness is love's conduct. It's how love behaves. I find it interesting how these two words are sometimes put together. What is kindness? Well, it's sometimes referred to as 'lovingkindness'. John Murray tells us that kindness is,

'lovingkindness, the dispensing of favor.'

In his commentary on Ephesians Charles Hodge spoke about kindness when he wrote on Ephesians 4:32 which tells us to be kind (same Greek root) and compassionate to one another. He defined kindness in terms of being the opposite of what came before—in verse 31. That verse reads,

"Get rid of all bitterness,
rage and anger,
brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice."

Those are things whose aim is to harm its object. Kindness in the opposite. It aims to bless and help people. John Eadie tells us that kindness consists of good deeds that are courteously done and which spring from love. Kindness is not rude nor critical. Kindness is the opposite of abuse, hatred, harshness and cruelty. Charles Hodge tells us that,

"the word properly means useful; then disposed to do good."

The basic thrust of all this is that kindness aims to help those on whom it rests.

Perhaps the best way of concluding our definition of kindness is to look at it in action. Let's look at some instances from the life of Jesus.

First of all, I want to read to you from Luke 7:11f. We read, Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out —the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."

Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

That's love. That's kindness.

Or consider the words of Luke in
Luke 8:40. I'm going to read these words to you now, but when you go home, go somewhere alone and read this section of Scripture and let it move you. It should bring tears to your eyes. For here we have remarkable instances of the love and kindness of Jesus. We read,

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named
Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

"Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the teacher any more." Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep." They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Or think of Jesus' handling the case
of the woman taken in adultery. They came to Him with her and said, (John 8:5)

"In the Law Moses commanded us
to stone such women.
Now what do you say?"

You all know how Jesus handled it. He stooped down and wrote on the ground. What did He write? We don't know but some have speculated that He wrote the Ten Commandments. Others have suggested that He wrote the summary of the second table of the Law. (Leviticus 19:18)

"love your neighbor as yourself."

We don't know what He wrote. But all of His actions expressed kindness to that woman. He did not accuse her but gently told her to go and sin no more.

Or consider Jesus' words as the
soldiers nailed Him to the cross. He said, (Luke 23:34)

"Father, forgive them,
for they do not know
what they are doing."

What kindness.

Consider His kindness to the criminal on the cross. Matthew 27: 44 tells us that both of the robbers who were crucified with Him heaped insults on Him. But later one of them came to his senses. He rebuked the other one and said to Jesus, (Luke 23:42)

"Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him,

"I tell you the truth,
today you will be with me in paradise."

What love! What kindness!

the angel's words concerning Peter to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome after Jesus resurrection. They went to Jesus' grave to put spices on Jesus body. They found the stone rolled away and when they entered the tomb they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But the angel said, (Mark 16:6f)

"Don't be alarmed.
You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene,
who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.
See the place where they laid him.
But go, tell his disciples
and Peter,
'He is going ahead of you into Galilee.
There you will see him,
just as he told you.' "

Peter had denied Jesus three times. And yet the first message to the disciples included a reference to Peter himself. What kindness Jesus has!

Now there are two things I want to draw your attention to that is evident from these passages.

The first is that

kindness is gentle and mild.

Kindness is not harsh.

You can do good to someone and yet at the same time not be kind.

Did you ever have someone do something for you and yet either before or after they do it they'll be gruff with you, speak harshly to you and not be sensitive to your needs. On the one hand they did some good for you. But on the other hand they weren't kind.

How gentle Jesus was with the widow of Nain, with the woman with the bleeding, with Jairus, with the soldiers, with the criminal on the cross, with Pete. How gentle and mild he was. Remember Isaiah's prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 42:1f,

" Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick
he will not snuff out."

A bruised reed he will not break. How gentle and mild Jesus is.

Kindness aims to do good in a way that is gentle and mild, in a way that is sensitive to the needs of people. True kindness is surrounded by love and seeks to bless others by doing good to them in a gentle and mild way.

The second thing that we see about Jesus' kindness is that He was kind to those who did not deserve it. What this means for you is that

you are to be kind to those who do not deserve it.

Does the fact that someone has done something wrong give you the right to be unkind?

By our actions I would think that we would answer, 'Yes', to that question. When someone sins, when they do something wrong, I think that we think that that gives us the right to be unkind.

But that's not God's way. The woman caught in adultery had committed a terrible sin. The soldiers had mocked Jesus. They were exceedingly cruel to Him. They had put a crown of thorns on His head. They had blindfolded Him, hit Him and asked if He could tell which one of them it was. The criminal on the cross had mocked Jesus with the rest. Yet to every one of them Jesus was kind. He was kind without hesitation.
Luke 6:35 tells us that God,

"is kind
to the ungrateful and wicked."

Titus 3:3f reads,

"At one time we too were foolish,
disobedient, deceived and enslaved
by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
We lived in malice and envy,
being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness
and love of God our Savior appeared
he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy."

God shows kindness to those who do not deserve it. We are to do the same. James Montgomery Boice writes,

"Kindness is the attitude God has when he interacts with people. Gad has a right to insist on our immediate and total conformity to his will, and he could be quite harsh with us in getting us to conform. But he is not harsh. He treats us as a good father might treat a learning child. This is our pattern."

Christians, be kind. Help others to be kind.

You need to be kind, you need to help others be kind.

Christians can be very unkind. One of the worst examples I ever heard was about a letter that liberal theologian William Barclay received after his daughter drowned. It was an anonymous letter and part of it read,

"I know… why God killed your daughter; it was to save her from being corrupted by your heresies."

Such a comment was designed purely to hurt and it did. It's hard to believe that someone could be that unkind. To think that it came from an evangelical Christian is mind boggling. Yet sin has so corrupted us that even our love for the truth can lead us into things that are directly opposed to the fruits of the Spirit.

But let's not think we're immune from that. The old nature is in all of us and it needs to be put to death. In our congregation there are many things that are said and done that are not kind. It's to our shame. We don't love each other like we should. Not only that, but we often don't follow the biblical procedures to deal with problems. Instead we say and do unkind things.

Why is unkindness tolerated in our congregation? Why are we giving the powers of darkness a foothold?

It should not be. As John
Stott writes,

"Our attitude to our fallen nature should be one of ruthless repudiation. For 'those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires'. That is, we have taken this evil, slimy, slippery thing called 'the flesh' and nailed it to the cross."

We all need to do something about unkindness. We need to be kind ourselves. We need to have nothing but love toward each other.

But even more than that, when you hear or see unkind things being done—admonish it.

When you hear a fellow Christian saying something or doing something that is not kind, you need to say to them,

"That's not kind. You're supposed to be kind. You're supposed to clothe yourself with kindness. (Colossians 3:12) Kindness is the way of the Spirit. If you're not acting in kindness, you're cooperating with the powers of darkness in their efforts to harm and destroy this congregation. You need to repent of this evil and be kind."

That's what we're supposed to be doing. We Christians need to be kind. We need to help other Christians to be kind.

Kindness is love's conduct. It's how love behaves itself.

It's interesting that the word 'fruit' in the phrase 'the fruit of the Spirit' is singular. Some interpret this as meaning that the one fruit of the Spirit is love and that love is manifested in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Joy is love's strength. Peace is love's security. Patience is love's endurance. Kindness is love's conduct. Goodness is love's character and so on.

Others don't go that far and I believe correctly understand that there are nine fruits of the Spirit. Herman
Ridderbos suggests that the singular 'fruit',

"stresses the fact that what the Spirit works constitutes a unity."

What the Spirit works is a unity. All the fruits are to be evident in your life. Kindness is connected with goodness. If you don't have goodness, you won't have kindness. The fruits are bound together in unity by love. Kindness is love's conduct. It's how love behaves. If you don't show kindness, it means that you don't have love. If you don't show kindness, it means that you don't have goodness. Christians, show kindness. Be kind. Help others to be kind. Clothe yourselves with kindness.

Lastly, for any here who haven't given their life to the Lord.

God has been so kind to you. He has not treated you as your sins deserve. His kindness is designed to lead you to repentance. Romans 2:4 says,

"do you show contempt
for the riches of his kindness,
tolerance and patience,
not realizing that God's kindness
leads you toward repentance?"

Go to Jesus today.