Kindness or gentleness is one characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal 5: 22-23).
Kindness comes from a loving heart. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul tells us that “charity/love … is kind” (I Cor 13: 4). Kindness comes from a heart of love, goodwill and a desire to emulate our Lord Jesus Christ and to do good to others (Col 3: 12-13). Kindness is courteous, compassionate, thoughtful and considerate.
Albert Barnes elaborates on the characteristics of kindness: “Love cultivates in us gentleness, makes the heart kind, and sweetens our temper. Its sweet influence permeates our lives to make us a blessing to all around us. A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be gentle, not severe and harsh; will be courteous because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings. … If all men were under the influence of true religion, they would always be truly polite and courteous; for true politeness is nothing more than an expression of benignity, or a desire to promote the happiness of all around us.”
1. Christ’s kindness to the sinful and despised
o The Samaritan woman. She was despised because of her race and immoral lifestyle (Jn 4). But the Lord sought her out. He dealt firmly but kindly with her. Jesus did not condone her sin, but directed her to her spiritual need (vv. 4, 7, 10, 14, 16, 18, 26, 29, 39). Christ’s gentleness led to her salvation and stirred her heart to witness for the Lord. This subsequently led to the salvation of her fellow Samaritans (v 42).
o The woman taken in adultery (Jn 8). Caught “in the very act” (v 4), she was set “in the midst” (v 3), while her accusers – the religious leaders – demanded that Jesus pronounce judgment. According to Mosaic law, she should be stoned (Lev 20: 10; Deut 22: 22). But the Lord, knowing their wicked intent to trap Him – “that they might have to accuse him” – shamed and silenced them with these words: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (v 7). “Convicted by their own conscience,” the woman’s accusers “went out one by one” (v 9). Turning to the woman, Jesus graciously offered her His pardon and a chance to repent from her sin: “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more” (v 11).
2. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth
Saul was David’s sworn enemy, yet the latter looked for an opportunity to show kindness to his family. The gracious king sought out Mephibosheth, the lame son of his good friend, Jonathan, to show him “kindness for Jonathan’s sake” (II Sam 9: 1). This David did by calling Mephibosheth unto him – “And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually” (II Sam. 9: 7)
Brethren, let us dwell on God’s love and goodness. If not for His kindness, we would have perished like the rest of the world. But God demonstrated His love and kindness toward us and saved us from our sins: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit 3: 3-5).
Having experienced the kindness of God, let us resolve to be kind to our fellowmen. As the elect of God, let us put on “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col 3: 12-13). Let us emulate our Saviour’s kindness in our daily relationships. Cultivate a kind, gracious and forgiving heart. Fill our lives with kind and thoughtful deeds. May the Lord use us to bless others through the ministry of kindness.