Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness.
Our fifth fruit of the Spirit. In studying kindness in scripture, one thing emerged above all else: kindness is action. In Genesis, we see two ways kindness is expressed.
“Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life…” –Genesis 10:19, ESV
“Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to the Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house.” –Genesis 40:14, ESV
Showing kindness. Doing kindness. Cross-reference kindness, and you will find passage after passage describing kindness as an action. I have long believed that the fruit of the Spirit were not just a cluster of characteristics we would experience while walking by the Spirit. The more I study, the more I see the fruit of the Spirit as a progression, an ordered approach to experiencing the ongoing work of sanctification.
When we start with love, we seek to love the Lord. We know it is the first and greatest command. It is a challenge to put aside our sinful desires and reach out a hand in love to Him. But His faithfulness and goodness draw us ever closer to Him. We start with love.
Once love begins to grow, joy is a natural by-product. In human terms, you have never seen someone grumping about and thought, “wow, they must be in love!” No, it is joy that springs forth from the security that comes with love. And when you know you are loved and experience the joy that flows from it, peace will follow suit. It will be much harder for the world and its Prince Satan to rattle you when you are rooted in love, joy, and peace.
And in those roots, you can better walk in patience. Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We fear Him, not as you would fear something scary, but as a recognition of His wonder and His power. That fear begets love. And we learned in our brief look at patience that it comes from wisdom.
Love leads to joy leads to peace. And fearing the Lord, loving Him for Who He is, is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom brings about the path of patience. And now, standing in that path, we are ready to act. And the next action is that of kindness. I see in m own life that when I lack the ability to be kind, there is often one of the former fruits that needs some attention. Maybe my love for God, and the outcropping of love for others needs a reframing. Maybe the love is there, but I’ve let life circumstances weigh down the joy. Or maybe love and joy are solid, but anxiety has taken the shine off of peace. Or maybe the first three are in good shape, but I’ve lost sight of the fact that patience is a path to be walked, growing from wisdom.
And when I go back to shape up the former fruit, I find kindness a much more holy experience. For when my mind is set in wisdom, walking along the path of patience in the knowledge that God is bigger than this, than reaching out to my fellow human and showing them kindness just seems like to next best action.
If your kindness seems to be broken, take time to examine the former fruits. They just may be in need of some pruning.