The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)
You have probably guessed by now that I am particular when it comes to definition of words. In conversation with a clergyman a few weeks ago, I asked him to define “apostasy” as he was using it. Not that I wasn’t aware of the definition of apostasy, but I wanted to know his understanding of the word so that we were talking about the same thing in our conversation.
I always thought I knew what “kindness” was. But I would have been hard pressed to define it cogently. Going to the dictionary was less help here, because the definition of kindness is “the quality or state of being kind.” That is defined as:
1 chiefly dialect : affectionate, loving
2 a : of a sympathetic or helpful nature
b : of a forbearing nature : gentle
c : arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance <a kind act>
3 : of a kind to give pleasure or relief
The first definition of “kind” is to be affectionate or loving. It is also sympathetic or helpful, gentle, forbearing. All of these are expressions of relationship between people. This relationship is a reflection of God’s relationship to us.
He is the original lover of people. He is patient with us. It is his mercy that gives us time to come to him on our own as we realize this facet of his love for us. The more we recognize this quality of his love, the better we can emulate it towards the people we meet. Imagine a world filled with kindness rather than competition, malice, and anger.
Help us to recognize kindness as a facet of your character, an attitude that we should be cultivating in order to share it with the world around us. Grant that we may always see others in the light of your love for them, that we may show them the same empathy and forbearance you have exhibited towards us.
In Jesus’ most precious name.