“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness . . .” (Galatians 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit includes kindness that reflects the character of God in His mercy toward us. This kindness is goodness and generosity particularly related to the things of salvation. Paul exclaims, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness” (Romans 11:22). God is kind to His children and they, in turn, express this kindness to others. Kindness and goodness typify the believer’s life.
What is the character of this kindness? Paul asks, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). God’s kindness is His forbearance and patience. His kindness gives us time to think through our lives and our sin and to turn back to God.
This kindness is also grace in Christ. God “show[s] the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). In kindness, God presents Christ to us. He gives us time to understand Him and turn to Him. As Paul again says, “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us” (Titus 3:4-5). Literally, Paul speaks of “When the kindness and philanthropy or compassion of God our Savior appeared.” Paul shows us that God’s kindness is compassionate kindness, that God’s kindness is the revelation of Jesus Christ.
United to Christ, men and women express the kindness of God in both the church and the world. Romans 11:22 once again, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness” (emphasis added). When you experience the kindness of God, He works His kindness in your heart. You become kind-hearted. You commend yourself to a watching world in the kindness you express to others (2 Corinthians 6:4 and 6). For this reason, the apostle Paul exhorts, “As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, emphasis added).
Outside of Christ, people lack this Spirit born fruit. Paul quotes Psalm 14:1 in Romans 3:12 to describe such people. “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good.” Literally, “there is not one doing or practicing kindness.” Psalm 14:3 continues the same thought. “They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good [practices kindness, LXX] not even one.”
While the lack of this fruit characterizes unbelievers, simple acts of kindness mark you as a follower of Christ. Often, these are a matter of common courtesy. You Say please and thank you to those serving you in a restaurant. You hold the door for others so they may pass through first. You defer to and honor your elders.
More particularly, remember “the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). And so, it will serve you well to be kind to others by giving the Holy Spirit time to convict them of sin and to work Godly repentance in them. Thus, you will emulate the kindness of God. In this way, you will “continue in His [God’s] kindness” (Romans 11:22). You will vindicate your faith by your works (James 2:24).