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June 18th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

The Fruit of Kindness

Dear Friends,

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness

Who would not want to be thought of as a kind person? It’s opposites include meanness, vindictiveness, andĀ  callousness. Yuck! I know of few people who would aspire to be any of those things, even if they are those things.

Kindness is intertwined with mercy, compassion, grace, and patience. When you look up its uses in the Bible it tends to be used with regard to behavior toward the poor, weak, needy, dependent, or undeserving. It also refers to behavior towards one’s enemy, as God, who is kind, allows His rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike. Oh that we would be so generous. We tend to be kind toward those who are kind toward us.

It all sounds so nice. Just about all people’s everywhere agree. But real life gets in the way of our best intentions.

In real life, jealousy, envy, bitterness, rivalry often undermine kindness. It takes great power to be truly kind toward one who has bettered you, and who is rubbing your face in it.

But perhaps for many of those reading this the bigger enemy of kindness is narcissistic frenetic busyness. To be kind to a person I must take notice of them. I must get out of myself and make them the object of my attention. I must unhook from my cell phone and blackberry and remember that that object before me is a human being, not a robot programmed to serve me. To be kind I must take the time to interact with them, to hear their story perhaps, to alter my precious schedule.

To be able and ready to extend kindness i must be able to build spaces into my day. How can I stop to attend to that person’s need when I am always on the go?

But how can I make it in this world, or be judged successful, if I live slowly enough to be kind?

Christian kindness comes down to trust and gratitude. Gratitude moves me to notice, and I mean really notice, and then acknowledge and speak gently to, the person before me who needs a word or an act of care. Why? Because God noticed, He took time to acknowledge, He stooped to love and ultimately to care for me in the very deepest ways.

Trust moves me to know deep down that God will take care of me if I slow down to take care of others. It can be costly to be kind, especially when kindness is done not with public announcements pointing to how wonderful and caring we are. Any time we take to be kind is time not taken for something else. Sounds easy. But usually something has to give.

Gratitude and Trust are the deep motives that drive most Christian virtues. At some level I must becomeĀ  aware in a transformative sense of how undeserving I was and have been to God’s kindness towards me in Christ, a kindness which extends into the very present moment. I am breathing. I am alive. I hear the birds singing. Even that is more than I deserve.

May I be as rich in mercy towards others as God continues to be towards me.

Peace.

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