What is kindness?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this fruit, particularly leading up to this post, and I have found myself searching for expressions of this virtue everywhere I go. Reading the headlines can cause one to think that perhaps kindness is extinct. It’s hard to come by.
What is perhaps even more sad to me is that it didn’t occur to me first to be the kindness I was looking for in others. I’ve been so desperate to see it alive in our world, that I had forgotten that kindness is also a fruit, one that grows and develops the more we stay connected to Christ…the more I stay connected to Christ.
Like each of the fruit of the Spirit, our model and motivation is Jesus. He is the only one who displayed all of these virtues in their purest and most perfect form, so we look to Him to see how it is done. With this shift in perspective (from searching the world to try and find kindness to looking into the life and ministry of Jesus), my eyes were opened to a significant truth:
Kindness costs something.
“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. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:4-5
Did you catch that? The kindness of God appeared in the form of Jesus. His kindness saved us. His kindness led Him down that road of suffering up that steep hill to that brutal, blood-stained cross. His kindness took the nails that were meant to be driven into our hands. His kindness bore the shameful crown of thorns that were intended for our sinful heads. His kindness was displayed through His armed stretched out wide as He hung in agony, every breath a battle. His kindness proclaimed, “It is finished,” and in doing so, set the captive free. Kindness was the motivation. The kindness of God is Jesus Christ.
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
His kindness continues to save today. It’s calling. It’s drawing. It’s beckoning the lost, the broken, the wanderer, the harlot, the addict, the other…the sinner. It’s calling you, and it’s calling me. It is His unfailing kindness that draws us into His love.
If we want to see a changed world, a world where kindness isn’t dying but rather thriving, let’s recognize today that kindness will cost us something. It’s supposed to. It will cost us our comfort, our pride, our energy, our time. And know this: when this virtue flows from your life without restraint, God’s presence will be made manifest in a world that is desperate for change; and where the presence of the Lord is, there is freedom. We have the privilege of bringing Heaven down to earth by displaying the kindness of Christ. What an honor!
Bear kindness today, friends…on the freeways, at the coffee shops, in the meetings, on Twitter and Facebook, in that long line…bear the kindness of the One whose kindness saved you and me.