Fruits of the Holy Spirit: ‘Kindness’ - Ephesians 4 v 29- 5 v 2
This is the second in our series on the fruits of the Holy Spirit as identified by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, but it is a funny old word, isn’t it? We tend to think of it as a bit old school, exemplified by the person who opened doors for ladies was kind; the person who is elderly themselves, but supports those who are elderly is seen as kind; we may have kind neighbours- I know that mine and Fi’s neighbours are exceedingly kind! But do we see it as so much a characteristic of God and an attractive one, so that we seek to bear its fruits? I am not so sure. In this day when if we aren’t driving at the speed limit, ensuring that we get in the choice of queue at the supermarket where we will reach the checkout till first, making sure that we push our children to be the top swimmer, athlete, mathematician, artist, or grammarian. I have often thought to myself that when parents tell you that their child is top in everything, how that can be when every other parent is reckoning that their child is also top? The Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie was reported to have written that some young people are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness, but are unable to actually show kindness. Let’s be done with talk, talk, talk alone and apply some actions to our genteel words!
Kindness is seen as a quiet trait, yet we have heard the Magnificat read magnificently by Robert and Noeline, where Mary praises God for His kindness which causes revolution, the world to be turned upside down! I have not viewed kindness as life changing until now! His kindness in supporting Mary and others of the oppressed has caused tumult to others. So, you may think of yourself as a kind person- who doesn’t? - but is your kindness so radical that it causes foundations to shift? Do your kind thoughts towards refugees, the marginalised, orphans and widows bring you to action? Does it cost you anything at all to have those kind thoughts?? We know, don’t we, that God’s kindness towards us is there to enable us to be kind to others, a ‘paying it forward’ in a sense. Just as we watched on that video, albeit without any reason to start giving to others apart from the Kindness of God revealed to us! The ultimate kindness of God has been shown by His forgiveness and that is demonstrated by the silhouette of Christ on the cross.
We are reminded in this passage which Fi has just read that we can bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit. Remember that we are made in God’s image and so we know what the feeling of sorrow is like. So, we must do all we can not to upset the One who has done, is doing and will do so much for us! We are then to follow some rules, the overall principle of which is the law of LOVE, working that into our daily living by getting rid of all the things which are the drivers to causing us to bring pain to others in the fellowship and replacing them with positive commitments, commitments to bless fellow Christians by being kind!
I see God’s kindness to me in direct and indirect ways. God does not punish me as my actions or inactions warrant; He is patient with me and has been over the course of my life; He is generous in His aspirations for me and of me as well as the many and diverse blessings He pours out upon me. I am so thankful for the many kindnesses He gives me!
Indirect acts of kindness, that is done by fellow humans: I am thankful for the kindness of this church who called me to full time ministry with you and paid me a sufficient wage so that Fi and I can live in this rather expensive town and can afford to go food shopping with the knowledge that we have enough money in the bank to pay for what we need. I am thankful for the kindness of others this week. I have been talking online with Katie P quite a lot this week seeking to support her for the time in hospital which she is dreading, and she has said to me that she wants to support me too! Someone’s kindness when they are struggling themselves affects and blesses me deeply! I have had recourse to be thankful to others for their kindness this week: Jenny and Dave invited us to their new house and gave us gorgeous food and we sat in their beautiful garden; Liz, who I had arranged to meet with, messaged suggesting that we meet in the cool of her woods instead of going for the planned walk which would have been hot; Robert and Noeline’s kind hospitality in inviting the Wednesday house group to their garden for a meal and inviting me too; Shelley’s visit to me, when she prayed for me after I had prayed for her.
Have a think back on your past week and remind yourself of the kindnesses of others to you, all done whether unconsciously or consciously because we have the God who is kind to us.