This week, for our Fruit of the Spirit series, we’re focusing on kindness and goodness. These terms strike me as nice, fluffy Christian words that depict a demure, smiling woman who writes a check for her local charity and doesn’t honk when someone cuts her off. But kindness and goodness are so much more than that – and, I believe there is an alarming shortage of true kindness in the world right now.
Before this pandemic, on Sunday evenings, I would meal plan for the week and put together my grocery order for the following day. With all of the craziness going on, meal planning and grocery shopping have been a nightmare. Who knew eggs, chicken thighs and toilet paper would be such a necessity in a pandemic?! We’ve been scouring every single grocery store within a 30-mile radius for these items. As soon as we find out that boneless skinless chicken thighs are available at the Costco across town, we’re in there like Delta Force trying to get what we need. (Because Heaven forbid we have to cook with chicken breasts instead!)
My reaction to this minor inconvenience made me consider what’s really important right now. What shortages does God care about? What deficits would get His attention?
I think God is looking down at our world and it hurts His heart that we have such a shortage of true kindness. Our goodness is apparently so rare that whenever someone does something exceptionally kind, it goes viral!
The good news is that as Christians, we can do something about that. Especially during such a turbulent time in our world, we can stand out and reflect these traits of God to the world on a daily basis.
What is kindness and goodness?
Kindness (chrēstotēs) and goodness (agathōsynē) are versatile words – and they are often interchanged with each other in various translations.
Kindness is desiring good for another person. Willingness to serve, wanting nothing in return. The consideration of another person.
Goodness is the act of benevolence. Because of your goodness, you are able to take care of others. The inner qualities of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience and kindness – come to life.
Many of the Bible verses using these Greek terms describe God’s goodness and kindness. One of my favorites is this verse in Titus:
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.Titus 3:4-5
Our salvation is a result of God’s incredible loving kindness – and He didn’t save us because of our own inherent value or goodness. He saved us because we needed to be saved, because we needed His mercy.
So, kindness is based not on the virtue of the recipient, but based on need. It isn’t even based on the gratitude of the needy person – kindness is the quality of giving regardless of the outcome or reception. There was no guarantee that we would respond positively to Jesus’s sacrifice, but God gave His Son anyway.
So, how can we be kind?
These qualities come from God – not from our own selves. In fact, Romans 3:12 says that there is no one good (chrēstotēta) – not even one. Our only hope at goodness and kindness is through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.
If you’re not sure how to receive the Holy Spirit, I recommend reading these verses: John 3:5, John 7:37-39, and Acts 2:38.
The good news is that because God has loved us, chosen us, forgiven us, and given us His Spirit, we can be kind and good. Kindness starts with being filled to the brim with gratitude for God’s love.
If you’re struggling with exhibiting kindness in your home, I recommend spending a few minutes each morning reading about God’s love for you and praying. Find a favorite verse about God’s love to memorize. Write down a list of ways that God has loved you personally. Read about the Cross and reflect on all that you have been forgiven of.
Kindness and goodness are the outpouring of God’s own love inside of us.
In many ways, kindness and goodness are the practical sides to love. The best “practical” to exhibiting these qualities is to treat others the way you would want to be treated.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Galatians 5:14
We can think of “The Law” as a codex of rules and regulations that have nothing to do with human connection – but this verse shows us that God’s intention with the law was for us to love each other. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). Kindness and goodness are the physical embodiment of love for others.
Start with the little actions.
When you wake up in the morning, hug and kiss your spouse and kids.
When your child talks to you, put your phone down and listen.
When your husband forgets to take out the trash for the 100000th time, take it out for him – without holding it against him. Just to be kind.
When your child asks for something, show that you care about what they want even when you can’t give them what they’re asking for.
When you have an opportunity to do something nice for someone in your house, do it. Without expecting them to care or notice. Without expecting anything in return.
When you speak to your husband and child, be conscious of your tone of voice and your words. Speak to them the way that you want to be spoken to.
Have you ever had an argument with your husband and at some point they say: why are you being so rude? And your response is: why are YOU being so rude?! You can’t even remember who “started it” (although I’m sure it was his fault!) but you’re both mad at each other for being unkind…
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Proverbs 15:1
We all want to raise kind humans, but kindness is imitated – and so are rudeness, sarcasm, and selfishness.
Basic kindness is learned in the home, but the home is often where it’s most neglected.
So treat your husband and children the way you want to be treated.
If you want your child to be kind, be kind to them. If you want your spouse to consider you and serve you and respect you and cherish you…do the same for him.
To be clear: we’re not doing these things in order to get something out of our spouses. We’re doing this because God did this for us. Praise God for his kindness to us!
He loved us when we were unlovable. He saved us when we were at our lowest point. And because of this, we can turn around and love even those who are unlovable and give to those at their lowest points. Because of God’s kindness to us, we can be good to those who aren’t within our family, whom we have no “incentive” to treat well other than to simply reflect God in the world.
There is a particular opportunity right now for us as Christians during this pandemic. We can choose to be exceptionally kind while the world is in chaos. We can speak kindly to the frazzled grocery store clerk. We can share supplies with someone in need. We can send an encouraging text or pray with an anxious friend. We can reach out to someone in a high-risk group to order groceries or supplies for them. The possibilities are endless. Let’s choose kindness instead of anxiety, goodness instead of fear in this tumultuous time.
For a wonderful article on this topic, check out this post by Church Trainer.