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I stood in line at the smoothie shop for a fruit drink, looking at the flavors and the ‘boosts’ that would give me a lift after a long day. Then I realized what I needed even more was a boost of kindness.

I had been frustrated with a neighbor that day and my husband and I had exchanged a few words I wasn’t happy about–even though I’ve vowed to treat him kindly as his illness progresses. Yes, I needed this fruit of the Spirit that Paul talks about in the Bible. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law . . . Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26).

My mind wandered as I waited for the server to prepare my drink. A boost to my immune system or my energy level would have been welcome on that warm day, but would either one matter if I didn’t also boost my spirit with kindness? I had some cleaning up to do—starting with asking God for forgiveness regarding my neighbor and then clearing the air with my husband.

The fruit we eat nourishes our bodies but it is the fruit of the Spirit that nourishes our souls. I don’t want to forget that. So what does it mean to be kind? What can we do to express this fruit of the Spirit in tangible and practical ways? Here are some of my thoughts about how to experience and express kindness as a way of life.

Fruitful Living Leads to Kindness

Shortly after I declared to God and myself to be kinder throughout the new year, I spotted a post on Facebook from a friend, asking the question, “If you could choose a word you want to live by in the new year what would it be?” I didn’t have to think twice. Kindness. I replied immediately. Put another way, I commit to being friendly, generous, and considerate toward everyone––no matter how I feel about them––throughout the new year and beyond.

Paul spoke with wisdom when he encouraged believers to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and be examples to others. That’s my goal. Sometimes, however, it’s a challenge. I know this from experience. Recently I attended a wedding. One of the guests is someone whose personality has always prickled me. This time instead of avoiding her, I took a risk and sat down and asked her about her job, her plans for the year, her family. I decided to be kind. Within a few minutes we were laughing and chatting as though we were old friends. Hmmm! It was a good reminder of my commitment to be kind.

Fruitful Giving Leads to Kindness

I noticed that I used to get stuck protecting or defending my behavior instead of looking at what doesn’t work between another person and me and what I can do to get it working! Kindness is the answer as I see it and not just in spirit, but in ways that people can see and feel.

  • A smile or a hug or warm handshake.
  • A listening ear when someone is struggling with a problem.
  • A helping hand when you see a neighbor or friend in a bind.
  • A small gift or short note that says “I love you” or “I’m thinking of you.”

There will always be situations and individuals that rankle us, but we can overcome the challenge by expressing simple acts of kindness––which give our lives a ‘boost,’ as well.

When I’m feeling stuck I find myself turning often to Psalm 32:8. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…” (Ps. 32:8 NAS). I feel confident the Lord will then lead me right back to Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-26.

Fruitful Sharing Leads to Kindness

My sister came to our house for a visit a few months ago. She’s been ill and her husband died last year. Charles and I wanted to pamper her a bit. We made sure she had plenty of time to read, to rest, to relax and to do as much or as little as she wanted. How easy it was to share our home and our life with her. It didn’t cost us a thing. In fact, I’m sure we received more than we gave. Sharing is like that. As we give to others, God gives it right back to us. Kindness works both ways.

Today I received an email from my sister with the following message: “I’m telling everyone who asks about my trip how wonderful it was and how caring, attentive, and easy you both were to be with.”

I closed my eyes and smiled, thanking God for helping me to do the very thing I said I wanted to do with my life this year—express kindness.

Fruitful Praying Leads to Kindness

For more than twenty years I’ve benefited from the faithful prayers of a praying friend. She asks for my requests several times a year, sends me some of her drawings and matching Bible verses to encourage me, and drops many kind words into my life by phone or email. If someone were to ask me what kindness looks like, I’d point to Sandy. She not only anticipates what a person needs and wants, she delivers it in small acts of kindness, the most important of which is faithful prayer.

When it comes to kindness, however, no one can outgive the Lord.  He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons (Acts: 14:17). And he encourages us: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

 

 

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What Does it Mean to be Truly Kind? — 12 Comments

  1. Karen, thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I’m glad I’m not alone in needing more of this fruit. Loved your practical examples.

    Just be sure to be kind to yourself too. You’re going through a lot, and sometimes the only one around to give you some kind TLC will be YOU.

    Hugs, Kristi

    • Thanks, Kristi: I appreciate your kind comment. No worries, I am being kind to myself–exercising, reading, praying, and participating in a caregivers support group. God is carrying me . . .

  2. You are right on target! It is easy to be unkind sometimes but also easy to BE kind if we keep our minds on good thoughts and put forth the effort as you did by talking to the lady at the wedding and showing an interest in her even tho you did not really want to!

    I like the story of the two men who were on their way to work. they stopped at a newstand, one bought a newspaper and the ‘seller’ was very rude!! The purchaser was so kind and wished the man a good day. As the two men walked away the friend asked him how he could be so kind to the man who was so very rude to him? The buyer simply said he refused to let anyone set his mood for the day !
    Perhaps I would be better off if I always felt the same way! I should never let anyone set my mood but “me” with God’s help !
    Love and prayers are with you and Charles.

    Margaret

    • This is a great story, Margaret, and hits the point. We are in control of our attitude and actions. May we always choose kindness.

  3. Dear Karen, thank you for inspiring me with your amazing writing and the “kindness” message. How I needed myself to be that way – be kind to others instead of focusing on being right and sticking to being perfect … or concentrating on myself only … my own feelings … my own pain and hurt … You’ve just inspired me to change my way. I loved the way how you quoted from the Bible – how timely and perfect guidance God has for us … I’ve got a long way to go but will keep working on improving myself. Thank you very much, Karen. Please take good care of yourself. We need you to keep writing these wonderful inspiring guidance for us. You’re simply amazing. Thanks a lot again. Jing

  4. I really loved this post, Karen. I really relate to this sentence, “I noticed that I used to get stuck protecting or defending my behavior instead of looking at what doesn’t work between another person and me and what I can do to get it working!” It’s so easy to focus on the behaviors of others instead of what I need to change myself! It’s also amazing how being kind and focusing on others lifts my attitude and brings heaps of blessings. 🙂

    • Thank you, Sherry, for taking a moment to check in and let me know my post is one you can relate to. I appreciate it so much.

  5. Great post Karen and a post with which we could all probably adhere. When someone does something unkind to us, it’s a natural thing to want to go back at them. I cite road rage or hog from another driver. But I’ve noticed Karen that while I sit there fuming, he’s already three miles up the road and has completely forgotten about me, if he ever even thought about me in the first place. You’re right, it is us who are effected the most. I’m the one who is upset and offended. Ironic huh? I’ve since then, mellowed out quite a bit. Galatians 5:22, 23 is a great place to start. (Might even be a great place to end in terms of projecting ourselves to others eh?!) Thanks for a great reminder of the Spirit that works within us.

    • Thanks, Jim, as always. Life is a lot more peaceful when we extend the hand and the thoughts of kindness to others. I’m still working on that too. It seems to be a long-term process for most of us.

  6. yes Karen, I know what it is to get weary with a sick husband. And I have a sister in Christ which gets on my nerves also. I have to remember His mercy is new each new day. We women are more alike than we sometimes know. We need to hold each other up in prayer. Bob is in the nursing Home and I don’t know if I can handle him at home, but he talks a lot about coming home. There is a lot to pray about.

    • Mary, thank you for letting me know how things are for you and Bob. I’m sorry to hear you need to be separated because of his condition, but at the same time I realize you have to stay strong for him and for yourself. I must do the same. You’re right. There is a lot to pray about. May the Holy Spirit guide us both.

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