“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 relating to the things of salvation. We see this in Romans 11:22 where 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; otherwise you also will be cut off.” God is kind to His children and they in turn express this kindness to others. This kindness and goodness typifies 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 expresses His kindness in His forbearance and patience. This kindness is designed to give us time to think through our lives and our sin and to turn back to God.
This is also kindness in Christ. God “show[s] the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). 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, “When the kindness and philanthropy or compassion of God our Savior appeared….” That is, God’s kindness is a compassionate kindness. God’s kindness is the revelation of Jesus Christ.
United to Christ, men and women express the kindness of God in the church and in 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; otherwise you also will be cut off” (italics added). When you experience the kindness of God, God works this kindness into your heart. You become kind-hearted. You commend yourself to a watching world in the kindness you express in dealing with 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, italics added).
Those who are outside of Christ lack this Spirit born fruit. Paul quotes Psalm 14:1 to describe such people. “All have tuned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:12). 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, 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). It will therefore serve you well to be kind to others by giving the Holy Spirit time to convict them of sin and 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) and vindicate your faith by your works (James 2:24).