Galatians 5:22-23 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Next on our fruit tree is the fruit of kindness.

The word kindness in the original New Testament Greek means moral goodness, integrity. The opposite can be harshness, being sharp or bitter. This same Greek word is used later in the book of Romans when talking about the kindness of God. In the Old Testament in the book of Proverbs, chapter 31, a woman is being praised for her character and attributes, and it is said of her that “she opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26). Wow – wouldn’t I like to be remembered for that! I confess all too often (especially when hungry, angry, or tired), I find myself sadly gifted in the cutting art of sarcasm, or as my Mom calls it, “verbal bullets”. Yes, I become a passive-aggressive word sniper, my tongue dripping not with kindness but with bitter venom. In those regretful moments, how I wish I had applied not lipstick to my lips, but instead a whole role of duct tape!

How can we demonstrate the fruit of kindness in our lives? In recent years, there has been a movement, of sorts, towards just that – people are encouraged to practice random acts of kindness (RAKs). This could be something as simple as being in line for coffee and paying for the stranger behind you or holding the door for someone. Maybe you let someone in the line ahead of you in traffic – I know, a most radical and major sacrifice, but how hard is it, really? At the market, thank your cashier or bagger and use their name (if they are wearing their name badge). Acknowledge them. Endorse the worth of what they have just done for you, however small it might seem in the world’s eyes.

Kindness is a gentle verbal affirmation, a word hug that lets someone know they are worthy, important. You have no idea the enormous impact that may have, as it may be the only tender act shown them that day, or week, or who knows how long?

Not too long ago my husband and I were out somewhere and trying to take a selfie, and a couple walking by offered to take the photo for us. (No… they didn’t steal my phone after doing so!!!) But since then that is something I look for the opportunity to do when walking out – if I see a couple trying to take a selfie, or a parent playing with their child, I will go up (in the most non-threatening, non-stalker way possible, of course) and offer to take their picture with their camera. It is amazing the appreciative respond I receive – like I had offered them some huge, valuable prize. And what is the price tag to me, a minute or two of my life? Sometimes just wishing someone a good morning or validating their presence with a simple smile and hello is all one needs to brighten their day. It costs us nothing but swallowing the fear of feeling or looking corny/silly, and the dividends you reap are beyond measure.

“Do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

Another practice of kindness is to give someone your full attention – put down the cell phone, stop trying to multi-task, look in the person’s eyes, lean forward with full “I’m listening” body language and be altogether present. Allow them to speak without interruption. Don’t waste their speaking time silently formulating your next sentence in your head, don’t try to fix their situation or problem, just L-I-S-T-E-N as if your life depended on it. I was once told, “Linda, I don’t need you to fix the problem, I just need you to listen to me.” (Ouch! Truth moment!) The best example of this kindness was a friend, Irene Knott, who would give her time and attention 100% when you were with her – I know of absolutely no one who ever spent time with her not coming away feeling like the most special, important person in the whole world… all because Irene gifted them with her undivided, attentive spirit.

My Pastor often tells us that “your talk talks much more loudly than your walk walks.” Irene’s actions were the most beautiful representation of her loving, godly character and heart – her desire to represent God to others manifested itself daily as she walked her talk in a major way.

With all the recent events happening in the world, there are many ways we can find ways/means to show kindness in bigger ways as well – volunteer your time, donate from your financial resources, to name a few. However, don’t let a major disaster be your only impetus to begin. Absolutely find ways to demonstrate massive action whenever possible… but don’t forget that small acts of kindness over time can also produce heart-healing results that will leave a legacy over your lifetime.

Today, and every day thereafter, discover ways to step out of your comfort zone to go about the business of being human to another human being.

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