In the previous post, I mentioned that unkindness has power. We humans can wield unkindness as a weapon to benefit us. And we often do. Yet, in the process of being unkind, we leave a trail a bodies. What is the antidote to unkindness? As we continue our study through the Fruit of the Spirit, this week we are studying kindness. I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to read that I believe kindness is the antidote to unkindness. But there’s more. In fact there are three qualities in the list of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 that are very similar. Take a look.
Kindness is “to provide something beneficial for someone as an act of kindness.”
Goodness is “the act of generous giving, with the implication of its relationship to goodness—‘to be generous, generosity’.”
Gentleness is “gentleness of attitude and behavior, in contrast with harshness in one’s dealings with others—‘meekness, mildness’.”
Do you notice how similar the concepts of kindness, goodness and gentleness are? In fact it might seem like these three words are talking about the same thing. I wondered if I should combine all three into one week. But I decided against it because, while they are certainly related, they are different enough to warrant a special focus.
I also think that we should have one sermon on each of these topics because we live in angry, unsettled times. Think about the political advertisements we just endured for the last month or more. Candidates willing to trash talk their opponents, including opponents in the same party. Candidates willing to curse in their commercials. (I don’t believe all curse words are automatically sinful, but I do believe it is in the best interest of society for politicians to maintain a level of decorum that does not include curse words.)
It seems as though the goals civil discourse and civil society are being eroded. What people believe in increasing measure, as verified by their actions, is that anger, sarcasm, cursing, gossip, confrontation, tearing down, and belittling are the best means we use to get what we want. Unkindness works. Unkindness is all around us.
Words like Kindness, Goodness, and Gentleness seem like antiques. Those words seem to be weak and impotent. Kindness, Goodness, and Gentleness seem to be the pathway of those who are losers. Christians, have we bought into the idea that though the Fruit of the Spirit is the way of Jesus, because it is not the way of the world, we can dispense with the Fruit of the Spirit in the areas of politics, business, and commerce? I have seen unkindness even in the church, when a person believes that their viewpoint is correct. Do the ends justify the means, so that we can be unkind if we think it will lead to a good result?
No! We followers of Jesus grow all the Fruit of the Spirit, the entire package, and we allow that Fruit to flow from the Spirit into every area of our lives. Remember, Paul said that growing the Fruit of the Spirit involves two things: first, crucifying the acts of the sinful nature, and walking in step with the Spirit.
It’s been a few weeks since we read the verses Paul wrote just before the Fruit of the Spirit, and it is important to remind ourselves of them. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul writes,
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We eliminate those acts of the sinful nature from our lives. Notice verse 20 includes a few sinful acts that are the opposite of kindness, goodness, and gentleness. Hatred, discord, fits of rage.
Because our struggle with these sins is so prevalent, I think we need one week about kindness, one for goodness, and one for gentleness. We Christians are called to live differently. We are called to express ourselves differently. Paul’s warning in verse 21 should cause us to pay attention: if you live like this you will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you are regularly demonstrating hatred, discord, and fits of rage, Paul says, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Yikes!
What does Paul mean? In the next post we’ll find out.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 749.
 Ibid, 569.
 Ibid, 748.
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