Were you ever bullied on the playground? Or called names by the neighbor kid? Do you have an annoying co-worker? A friend (or spouse) who pushes your buttons?
As a kid, I’ll never forget my mom admonishing me, “Josh, kill them with kindness.”
But what does this mean? The motive behind it sounds harsh, but a further look at how we treat those who test our patience may help us understand kindness in a new way. In Romans 2:4, Paul writes that “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”
We rarely experience selfless acts. In fact, kindness is quite unnatural. When we have been hurt, we tend to react in hurt (Eph. 4:31). But kindness is just the opposite. It leads us to extend love and forgiveness, even (and perhaps, especially) when we’ve been hurt (Eph. 4:32).
Kindness is when your child, though treated badly by a friend or sibling, still shares gummy bears at snack time.
Kindness is when you as a parent, though your child refuses to share, choose not to react out of anger.
The Greek root for kindness (Gal. 5:22) means uprightness, or benevolence, and describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing our patience. Remember the last time someone taxed your patience?
One clear example of kindness in Scripture is the parable of the Good Samaritan, who not only stopped to help the half-dead Jewish man, but also paid for his care (Luke 10:25-37).
This same word is also used to describe God’s unfathomable kindness to unbelievers, a kindness to those who didn’t love Him; a kindness that expects nothing in return (Romans 2:4, 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4). Picture Jesus on the cross, kindly praying for the soldiers murdering Him (Luke 23:34).
But kindness by itself is insufficient. In Galatians 5, Paul speaks about the fruit of the Spirit not as a list of isolated character traits, but as one thing. That’s because one quality without the others is counterfeit.
Goodness without kindness can be legalistic. Kindness without goodness can tolerate sin. We show the pure fruit of the Spirit only as we take time to develop these qualities together.
The Good Samaritan did not help in order to earn his way to heaven. The goodness he showed sprung from the kindness within his heart—concern for the Jewish man’s wellbeing, despite his own personal expense.
Instilling kindness and goodness in our children begins when we model loving behavior, even when they test our patience—an unnatural act that comes supernaturally through the Spirit.
• Kindness is the ability to act for the welfare of those who test our patience.
• Kindness is grounded first in love, and expects nothing in return for the good it produces.
• We show the pure fruit of the Spirit only as we take time to develop these qualities together.
Family Memory Verse
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy.”