Fruit Picking: Kindling Kindness
Verse 32 of Ephesians 4 says, “Be kind to one another”. How many of us can say that we are characterized by kindness? Maybe before we can answer that question we ought to define what kindness means.
Firstly, true kindness is part of our Spirit wrought identity.
Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). So if you are a Christian you are kind. It’s part of your new DNA – your new identity. Now the depth and pervasiveness of our kindness can vary from person to person, but we all ought to demonstrate Spirit-filled kindness. Another way Paul puts it is that you must “put on” kindness (Col. 3:12) as you put off anger, wrath and malice (Col. 3:8). He says it is part of the “new self” (Col. 3: 10) as opposed to the old self (Col. 3:9).
Secondly, true kindness is other centered.
“Be kind to one another” (Eph. 4: 32). The idea is not that we are kind to ourselves, but to others in the church. The world would say, “Give yourself a break, you’re not that bad, forgive yourself”. The Bible says, “In yourself you are not good and you cannot provide the forgiveness you need. Only Christ can and he has. So you are a new creation in Christ by faith. So believe that and put off your old self-centered self and put on kindness and aim it at others around you on a Sunday and through the week.”
Thirdly, true kindness is tenderhearted.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…” (Eph. 4: 32). Kindness is marked by a sensitive heart. You can appear to be a good Christian but if your heart is consistently hard you cannot have assurance that you are a Christian. Are you sensitive to your own sin and the sufferings of others? Are you moved by the plight of those less fortunate? As a Christian gets older a sign of their maturity is their tenderheartedness. In 2 Timothy 4 Paul says this in his last words to Timothy: “At my first defence no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me.” He lists a whole range of people and then confesses how they had all let him down in his hour of need. However, he continues, “May it not be charged against them”. Such is the tenderhearted kindness of the
Fourthly and finally, only the gospel can produce true kindness.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). When you realize how much God has loved you by sending Jesus to die in your place on a tree, you begin to see his kindness to you. When you see that Jesus secured forgiveness of your sins, by taking the punishment for those sins in your place, then you begin to be broken and tenderhearted. When you realize that the Father and Son have not left you alone but filled you with the Holy Spirit then you begin to realize who you are and are empowered to evidence the kindness of the Spirit himself. So let’s kindle kindness in all of our relationships. Let’s be who we are.