Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1958


Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

Kindness is one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22.); it is one of the attributes of God (Luke 6:35.); it is a quality to be cultivated by every child of God (Col. 3:12; 2 Peter 1:7; Eph. 4:32.); by it, the presence of the mature love that identifies one as a son of the Most High, is demonstrated (Luke 635; 1 Cor. 13:4.); it is one of the graces listed by the apostle Paul as characterizing his ministry and commending him as a minister of God. (2 Cor. 6:6.) A proper consideration of these truths makes one more fully realize the importance of the subject of this paper.

In an investigation of this subject as in the study of any Bible topic, the proper source of information is the Bible. For this reason, this paper will be devoted in the main to the study of passages which use the word which is translated "kindness."

In the King James Version the word, "chrestotes" is translated "gentle" in Gal. 5:22, but in the American Revised Version it is translated "kindness." Vincent's comments on the King James translation is, "Better kindness; a kindness which is useful or serviceable" (Word Studies in the New Testament). According to Vincent the root idea of the word is "profitableness." We should think of kindness, then, as a practical or profitable thing not as a mere impractical luxury.

The exercise of kindness and severity by the same person is not incongruous, for we are told to "behold then the goodness (kindness) and severity of God." (Rom. 11:22.) Here the word, "chrestotes," is opposed by Paul to severity and both are attributes of God. The kindness of God is displayed on behalf of the elect who "continue;" his severity is toward "them that fell." God is both kind and severe. Thus we see that both severity and kindnes are to be employed according to the requirements of the occasion.

Not only is God severe toward the evil but is kind to them as well. God exercises kindness even toward them, who, by their attitude and conduct, merit only his severity and requires that our love be of the character to do good to our enemies — "But love your enemies and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.' (Luke 6:35.) God is kind to the unthankful and evil even so must we do good to our enemies. To "be kind" is to "do good." The child of God is to develop love of such character as to cause him to be kind — that is, to do good to his enemies. This is in line with Paul's teaching that "Love . . . is kind." (1 Cor. 13:4.)

How does the behaviour of some brethren toward other brethren look, when measured by this pattern of conduct? There is a pattern! This pattern is the divine pattern of behaviour toward which all, who desire to qualify as sons of the Most High, should look. Kindness — doing good — even to enemies, those who are unthankful and evil, is utterly foreign to the "Machiavellian" pattern for power, as developed in "The Prince." It is shocking to observe how the behaviour of some brethren conform to the harsh worldly pattern designed by diabolical forces for the power made of the earth. What do we really want? to be children of the Most High or to have worldly acclaim and power?

Kindness is not accidental, at least, the kindness which characterizes the fruit of the Spirit is not a matter of chance; it is to be added. (2 Pet. 1:5,6.) God's elect are to "put on . . kindness." (Col. 3:12.) We are also instructed to be "kind one to another." (Eph. 4:32.) Kindness is within the reach of all, but conscious effort is required.

In 2 Cor. 6:6 we have kindness listed as one of the graces by which the apostles were commended "as ministers of God." This passage recognizes kindness as a mark of a minister of God. Paul had set an example of kindness which, to those who think, would strongly commend his message as being of divine authority.

Kindness activated in all the affairs of men would heal many of earth's ills; it would make smooth many rough places; it would eliminate many of the jars of discord; it would promote forgiveness and make the earth generally a better place in which to live. The benefits of kindness are distributed three ways: the one who exercises kindness, the one toward whom the kindness is directed, and all who observe the act are benefitted; every one feels better.

Kindness is like leaven; it quietly, yet persistently, spreads from the individual to the group. The contagion of kindness is demonstrated in nearly every case of its exercise. Every observing person has seen how a "deed of kindness done" is extended to become multiple deeds of kindness. The good influence of one deed of kindness is immeasurable.

Human relationships could be raised from the low level of ill will, spitefulness, and animosities to which it has fallen to a high plane of good will, generosity, and fraternal feeling, if men would only allow kindness to have a more prominent role in human affairs. This, however, will never come about by mass action but rather will be accomplished by the individual being "led by the Spirit." The kindness required is not to be added as a mere matter of policy; it must be a matter of principle. It is accomplished by submitting to the Spirit. Those who are "led by the Spirit" invariably produce the "fruit of the Spirit." Kindness is one of the distinguishing qualities of the "fruit of the Spirit." If you are a child of God, you yourself, right now, without consulting any one can start a revolution which can profitably touch the lives of thousands. "Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do. Do not wait to shed your light afar." Do the many deeds of kindness you may do and "brighten the corner where you are."