Kindness, like goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control, the other varieties of the fruit of the Spirit we have considered so far, is not something that comes naturally to us. It is the opposite of selfishness. And we are, at heart, in our unredeemed state, apart from God’s grace, selfish to the core.
One dictionary defines it as “the quality of being gentle, caring, and helpful” (colliersdictionary.com). Another defines it as “the quality of being gentle and considerate” (merriam-webster.com). Gentleness and kindness, both varieties of the fruit of the Spirit, are very similar. They are not identical twins, but they are members of the same family.
Kindness and goodness are closely related, too, kind of like the chicken and the egg. I’m not sure which one comes first. Does kindness, which can also be defined as “love in action,” flow from goodness? Does goodness produce acts of kindness? Or does the quality of kindness produce goodness expressed in good deeds? I’m not sure. Either way, you can’treally have one without the other…
Jesus points the way to a lifestyle of kindness for us in the Sermon on the Mount in giving us the Golden Rule to follow. The Golden Rule is not: “Do unto others before they do unto you.” You know that’s not it.
The Golden Rule is simply this: In everything you do, in every area of your life, do to (or for) others what you would want them to do to (or for) you (Matthew 7:12). Treat others the way you want others to treat you.
Do you want others to be kind, to show kindness, to you? Then treat them with kindness. It’s not complicated, is it?
The Golden Rule has been called “The Mount Everest of ethics” (Lee Strobel, God’s Outrageous Claims, 152). It is not based on self-interest or self-protection or self-promotion. It is based on selfless generosity.
God does not call you to perform “random acts of kindness” – as praiseworthy and valuable as those random acts may be. Actor Morgan Freeman (who can forget Driving Miss Daisy or The Shawshank Redemption or The Bucket List?) said that the way we change the world is by “one random act at a time.” There is a better way to make a difference for good in the world. Not by random acts, but by intentional acts, by a consistent lifestyle of kindness that can revolutionize the way people relate to one another.
The best places for that to happen – the best places for it to begin and grow – are right here in the church, in our relationships with one another, flawed, broken, and needy creatures that we are, and in our families, in the “little churches” that exist in our homes.