Next after "Patience" in the list of the "fruit of the Spirit" is "kindness". I was wondering whether to do a meditation on kindness until this morning when I started hearing the word "kindness" over and over on the radio. It seems to be a thing we need to pay attention to.
Kindness. Paul wrote to the Ephesians "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32) It is a little thing, kindness. An example I heard was, "say 'thank you' to the ones who are working to provide food, and the other necessities of life. There are workers in the grocery stores overwhelmed by the demands. Show kindness. You, yourself are under a lot of stress. Think of how it eases the tension when someone else shows you a small kindness, and act toward your neighbor with kindness.
It is significant that Paul wrote this to the Ephesians. They were in a hostile culture where odd cults were all over the place, and yet Christianity was becoming treated with more and more suspicion. Paul, himself was writing from prison. And he writes to them in order to help bind them together so they could endure. Does that sound familiar. Soon some would be jailed for being Christian, and some would be put to death for the name of Jesus. That is not familiar! And Paul writes of this simple little fruit of the Spirit, "Be kind to one another."
It is surprising how much of an impact kindness can have. Even in worldly settings little acts of kindness received can inspire further acts of kindness passed on to others. There are examples that go by the name of "pay it forward." A customer in a drive-through tells the worker they want to pay for the meals of the people in the next car. A man buys coffee and buys another one for the next veteran who comes in.
But Paul says more. He says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." "As God in Christ" connects the whole matter to the plan of salvation. It is kindness in Jesus Christ toward us. Paul talks about, "when the kindness of God our Savior ... appeared, He saved us ... according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit". (Titus 3:4-5)Kindness is bound up in the work of salvation in Jesus Christ. And kindness is part of what God is working within us, as the Holy Spirit plants, grows and develops in us everything that is ours through Jesus.
So show kindness. Within the body of Christ this little fruit of the Spirit binds us together, and it is true that we need each other even in the best of times. Show kindness. To those outside the body of Christ it shines the light and the love of Christ to a sin-darkened world.
Lord Jesus, we are in the middle of something where we do not see the ending. Our concerns and worries can make us impatient and lead us to react with stress. Help us to remember the kindness of Your love to us, so we are able to show kindness to each other and to everyone around. Help me to live with Your kindness in my heart that I may serve You as a bright spot in the lives of others, and so may show Your love in a time when Your love is so much needed. Amen.