Fruit of the Spirit Kindness, Goodness and Gentleness
Kindness, goodness and gentleness are love in action in this world, with everyone we meet, with friends and family and enemies. The ability to be kind, good, and gentle grows in us—like all the fruit of the spirit–as we follow Christ in our lives, especially as we confront the issues in our lives that keep us from loving others—resentment, anger, hostility, pain and suffering, trauma, abuse and more. We Americans tend to resent any pain and suffering, because we feel entitled to a life without such awful experiences, but when we follow Christ we learn that all these negative experiences are designed to teach us—through His healing—how to get beyond these issues. Any challenges in our lives are meant to become a source of fulfillment and purpose for us. As we are healed of our pain, we are often called to help others in similar circumstances.
Take the ex-alcoholic who now sponsors people in AA who are facing issues similar to those that have now been healed in the sponsor. Or, I read of a woman whose disabled daughter finally graduated from college in her mid-thirties; she now helps other parents with similar challenges. It is our acceptance of difficulties we have faced in our lives that allows us to see the positive learnings in them, and then turn around to help others with the same issues.
For me, growing up in a hell-fire-and-damnation church for 12 years produced such a level of doubt and fear that I was out of the church by my late 20’s. I couldn’t tolerate the image of God I was taught—capricious, vengeful and angry—for me, a raven sitting on my shoulder ready to zap me for anything I did wrong. Today I am grateful for that church and those lessons. Without them, I wouldn’t have spent years of my life trying to figure out who God was to me. I wouldn’t have become a spiritual director or a writer with a focus on how we live this life in Christ.
Without God’s healing of our challenges and pain, so much of our hard times gets projected onto others—our anger means we would retaliate on others, our judgment means they are the problem, our suffering means we cannot love others as God wants us to, we are so self-involved, our own sin gets projected onto others as fear of the “other.”
Kindness, goodness and gentleness are the way we are to approach our fellow human beings when we are able to pass on God’s love for all of us. As we begin to express God’s love in our lives, we are also expressing our own acceptance of our own foibles and failures. We can be kind and good and gentle with others only when we are can accept our own sins and shortcomings. We are no longer striving to live in the world, of the world. Everyone we meet will feel those expressions of love, just as we live in God’s love, forgiveness and acceptance of all that we are.
We no longer judge others, or condemn them. We forgive them for what they have done. We live in God’s love and project it out to others continually. All this comes about slowly as events in our lives highlight what we need to let go of, as we realize what loving God is all about—surrendering our darker selves to God so that we can love Him with all of ourselves. For hanging on to our pain and suffering not only means we can’t love others, it really means we can’t love God either.
These three qualities really come to the fore when we have given over so much of our lives to God. They grow in us—kindness, goodness and gentleness. Along with patience, they make up the most of the way we approach other people and ourselves. Since we can be good and kind and gentle with ourselves, just as God is in loving us and in forgiving us all our sin, we can express those same qualities to every person we meet. To be good and kind and gentle means we value each and every person as someone made in the image of God, someone who is created and beloved by God, who would be held and called just like we are.
The Greek word for kindness is chrestos which means to be “easy, kind, good, loving, and benevolent.
The Greek word for goodness is kalos which means to be “good, right, beautiful, fine, excellent, and noble.
The Greek word for gentleness is prautes which means gentleness, meekness, and humility.
To be loving, good, and humble means to approach each person as a son/daughter of God. We know that we are all flawed human beings in this world together, all loved by God. To be able to love ourselves and others means we have given up any tendency to judge or condemn anyone in favor of loving them as God loves them. Then, we are showing and showering God’s love and mercy and forgiveness on everyone we meet without exception. Through that love we are inviting each person to come back to God where they will be loved and forgiven for all that they have done that is wrong and blessed for all they have done that is good. What a gift we can be to the humans of this world, folks just like us, flawed but still lovable!
Questions to ponder over the week: Have I turned over my pain and suffering to God for healing? Or am I still angry about it? Can I love myself: be good and kind and gentle to myself for all that I am? Then can I love my neighbor, all my neighbors in this world with the same goodness, kindness, and gentleness?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have been healed of the pain and suffering in our lives. May we freely love ourselves and our neighbors, all of them.
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 Edward W. Goodrick & John R Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), Strong’s #5983, p. 1603
 Ibid, Strong’s #2819, p. 1561
 Ibid, Strong’s #4559, p. 1585