“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Kindness is another one of those all-important characteristics that can easily be mistaken for something else. I think we often settle for niceness instead of kindness, which is a pretty poor substitute. In her book called Nice: Why We Love to Be Liked and How God Calls us to More, Sharon Hodde Miller writes:
“Kindness takes risk. It walks lovingly toward difficulty and even derision. It does not shrink in the face of conflict. Niceness avoids, avoids, avoids…Kindness doesn’t revel in tumult, but it does have the fortitude to persevere in love in spite of it.” p. 40
She goes on to describe that we can tell the difference between niceness and kindness in who they serve. Niceness is all about serving self, kindness is faithful to God.
The Bible has a lot to say about kindness, particularly the kindness of God. He displays supernatural kindness to us and fills us so that we can display that supernatural kindness to others. Just like love, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to display kindness to others if we haven’t experienced it first.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:1-4 (ESV)
It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. We don’t come to him because of bullying or debating or coercion. He leads us to himself with his overwhelming and undeserved kindness. What if we extended so much kindness to others that they were led to repentance?
We can be nice in our own strength, especially because that’s what we’ve been taught all our lives. I can choose to be nice to people even when I don’t like them. But kindness is entirely different: true kindness is supernatural. When we choose to be kind even though our flesh tells us to do the exact opposite, we are living like Jesus and are partaking in the miraculous. When we are kind to those around us, we are bringing the Kingdom culture to earth and giving people a glimpse of the character of our God.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in us and participate in the miraculous kindness of God today!
How do you think kindness and niceness are different from each other?
How have you experienced the kindness of God in your life?
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