In what way is kindness a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
We are not naturally inclined to feel kindness to one another. The world teaches us to "look out for number one"—to dismiss others and concern ourselves instead with our own needs. To feel a beneficial, tender concern inspired by a good character is not our natural tendency. Yet the Bible exhorts us to be kind (Colossians 3:12; 2 Corinthians 6:4-6). The only way we can truly feel kindness toward others is through the influence of the Holy Spirit. As a believer submits to the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit works in the believer's heart to replace selfishness, anger, and coarseness with love, patience, and gentleness. These qualities are the "fruit" or consequence of the Spirit.
The kindness of the New Testament, chrēstotēs, is more than just doing something nice once in a while. It is the inclination of a person's character. When the Spirit works in us, we begin doing kind deeds because we are kind. There is no hypocrisy involved. The Spirit changes our hearts and thereby changes our actions.
Chrēstotēs comes from the Greek chrēstos, an adjective meaning "good, mild, and fit for use." It was chrēstotēs that led God to offer us salvation. Chrēstotēs motivated the Good Samaritan. And it is just such kindness that should motivate our behavior toward our antagonists: "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing" (1 Peter 3:8-9).
It is hard to show kindness to others, and even harder to feel it. Those who are "God's chosen ones" (Colossians 3:12) are called to kindness. Thankfully, we're also empowered by the Holy Spirit to make it happen. Kindness is His fruit.
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