The fifth virtue listed in the fruit of the Spirit is kindness. The King James Version uses the word "gentleness" but there is little doubt that "kindness" is a more faithful translation of the original Greek word -- chrestotes. "Kindness" is a very beautiful word; it means "a kindly disposition, or warm goodwill toward others."One commentator says that if you wanted to express Christianity in one English word, you would use the word "kindness." To speak, for example, of an "unkind Christian" is almost a contradiction in terms. There is some evidence that in the early centuries of the Church, non-Christians used the words "kindly" and "Christian" as synonyms. Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, said, "The words were so allied in meaning that no harm was done by the confusion."I once asked a church youth group, if I had the power to give them just eight of the fruit instead of nine, which one would they be willing to do without. Almost everyone in the group said "kindness." When I asked why, they explained that for them, the word conjured up a picture of weakness and sentimentality. I told the group that they were obviously unaware of the true meaning of the word "kindness," and that a kindly disposition does not necessarily mean maudlin sentimentality. So let's be quite clear what we are talking about when we use this word: kindness is a supernatural virtue endowed upon us by the Holy Spirit, engendering within us a warm goodwill to others. How much of it, I wonder, will flow out to others today from you and me?
Gracious Father, help me today to be clothed with kindness. Make me a person who can show warmth and goodwill to others. I ask this for Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What was Paul's exhortation to the Romans?
2. What does "compassionate" mean?