The next piece of fruit in the series on the Fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of Kindness. For an overview see, By Their Fruit You Will Recognize Them.
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
Kindness is a prime example of a piece of fruit we tend to associate with a feeling or an emotion. When someone is described as kind, it is often assumed that the person is cordial and pleasant to be around, even well-mannered. It is easy to think someone (or ourselves) kind without ever attributing it to specific actions. Yet Scripture invariably associates kindness with a tangible action, something that is done to or for someone else.
The word for kindness in Scripture is closely related to the idea of benevolence, or a specific action performed for the benefit of someone else. It is for this reason that I believe our word generosity comes closest to the heart of the meaning of kindness. Generosity is being willing to give freely out of what is ours to those around us.
We tend to associate generosity first and foremost with money, but generosity reaches far beyond writing a check or handing a dollar to the homeless. We can be generous with our time, as well as other expressions of hospitality. Generosity begins in the heart and manifests itself in our words and actions – all areas of our life.
While generosity extends far beyond money, there is little question that Scripture teaches the importance of financial stewardship. Money is not inherently good or bad; it can be hoarded and used for evil purposes, or it can be used as a means for good, helping resource important projects and providing means for others in a time of need. A widely held myth associated with generosity is that a person needs a lot of money in order to truly be generous, but this is simply not the case.
There are many other ways we can live a life of generosity. We are to be generous with our possessions. We can be generous with our abilities, always on the lookout for ways to use our gifts in order to bless those around us. We can be relationally generous, not treating others as inconveniences, but consistently building into the lives of others. We are called to be generous with our words, encouraging one another. A heart of generosity does not confine this piece of fruit to a single area of life; it does not compartmentalize. Kindness continually manifests itself in acts of generosity.
If the fruit of kindness is associated with generosity, how do you see this piece of fruit developing within you?
- Am I become a more generous person with my time, my words, and my resources?
- Which aspect of kindness – your time, words, or resources – is easiest for you to be generous with? Which is the most difficult?
- Are there areas of your life where a kind attitude has not been enlivened with a generous spirit?