The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3
We are writing this week about kindness as a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 As I sit and write this post, I am reflecting on this past week. I have both experienced and given kindness. It has been a good week and I have encountered many nice people with whom I shared what I thought was kindness. But as I meditate on the scripture, a question interrupts my thoughts… “was any of it fruit of the spirit?” What is this kindness the scripture urges us to practice? What is the difference in kindness the fruit and courtesy, politeness or consideration? The fruit of the Spirit is nine attributes of the Christian life and characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in our spirits. This leads me to believe that kindness the fruit is much more than mere pleasantry or courtesy.
We know that Jesus came to earth to save us. He laid down His divinity to pick up his humanity in order to die on the cross to atone for our sins. My mind can’t even comprehend this and my heart can barely contain the emotion of receiving His uncomparable act of lovingkindness. Since we also know that Jesus is our example, it necessarily follows that this kind of humble, selfless love is our example of kindness the fruit. We cannot think of kindness as separate from lovingkindness; otherwise we are reducing kindness the fruit to a mere everyday courtesy. Jesus gave us so much more than that, so we are called to likewise give much more than everyday courtesy.
The Hebrew word for kindness is che’sedh which translates as lovingkindness or loyal love. Jesus loves us with an everlasting love and therefore with lovingkindness draws us to him. I don’t think you can separate love from kindness the fruit because kindness the fruit (like all nine attributes ) comes from God. Because every word of the Bible is authored by God, although penned by others, we know that every word is anointed and ordained for His purpose and our good. This leads me to believe that not only are the actual words perfectly penned, but the order of the words are likewise perfectly penned. In Galatians, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit in the following order: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Love is the first fruit mentioned. Could it be that love is mentioned first because it is love that prompts the other attributes and without love we cannot manifest any of the attributes of the Spirit?
I love old gospel music and a certain song by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel seems to sum up fairly well lovingkindness as exemplified by Jesus. The song is “In Loving-kindness Jesus Came.” The lyrics are as follows:
In loving-kindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise His name, He lifted me!
He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiv’n, He lifted me.
His brow was pierced with many a thorn,
His hands by cruel nails were torn,
When from my guilt and grief, forlorn,
In love He lifted me.
Now on a higher plane I dwell,
And with my soul I know ’tis well;
Yet how or why, I cannot tell,
He should have lifted me.
I think this song beautifully portrays God’s loving-kindness for us. When I really think about the cross and consider what it must have been like for Jesus, I am overwhelmed beyond what my heart can contain without an outpouring of tears. Thinking this week about His lovingkindness has convicted me to be more generous of heart and kind out of love rather than courtesy. Because of His unending love, we always have more to give. ~ Tracey
Your turn ~ Have you experienced kindness in such a way that you knew in your spirit it was His lovingkindness? Have you shared His lovingkindness with others and knew in your spirit that they received it as an affection from God? We would love to hear your about your experience. ~ Breath on Paper