Kindness and Gentleness

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

I've been thinking about kindness and gentleness a lot lately. Probably because being kind and gentle isn't natural to me like it is to other people. I've known a number of people who were constantly kind and gentle. For example, I think about one couple we know, Tom and Linda Marshall. Both of them have always been so soft spoken but willing to step up and help anyone in need. Both so kind and gentle. They always come to my mind as examples of how I should be around everyone else.

Several times in the New Testament, both Paul and Peter talk about believers being kind:

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 NKJV: But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

In 2 Corinthians Paul makes this list of things which he says prove believers as ministers of God. Among a very impressive list that includes all kinds of persecution, he includes kindness. Being kind to others.

Col. 3:12-13 NKJV: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do."

In his letter to the Colossian church, Paul tells us that, as the elect of God -- as believers -- we are to put on kindness. That means, we are to choose to be kind. It isn't something that will somehow just happen to us. We need to consciously choose to be kind to those around us.

2 Peter 1:5-7 NKJV: But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

Peter includes kindness in his hierarchy of Christian maturity. It's interesting, too, that Peter places kindness near the end of the hierarchy. Perhaps for Peter kindness was difficult. I do believe that, at least for most of us, without the power of the Spirit in our lives, we couldn't be kind. I know that it's very difficult for me.

In looking at definitions of being kind, one phrase stuck out at me: "a willingness to do good." How often do I choose what I'm going to do based on whether it is good for someone else? Do I think about what I'm doing and either the evil or good it will cause? Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NKJV: See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. I know that I need to be kinder to those around me. I need to consciously think about being kind and then do that kind and good thing, rather than what comes naturally. What comes naturally is often awful! So I need to make a conscious effort to think about what I do, whether or not it's kind.

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Copyright by Robin L. O'Hare.
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