Kindness -the Lenten Journey

Kindness is the fifth fruit of the Spirit.

It seems that this is elementary school 101. Be kind to others. The golden rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. We are taught, at least most people, to be kind to others. We are taught the guidelines of how to maneuver in a society where we work as a group. We are parts of families and communities where kindness is a way of cohabitating with one another.

But, how does this connect to the Spirit’s fruit of Kindness? It extends far beyond just the prerequisite kindness of functioning within families, and communities. The Kindness bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit is a working Kindness in the face of our weakness and despite the wretchedness of others.

It is easy to be kind to someone who loves us and is kind to us in return. But, how are we to be kind to someone that is cruel, mean, doesn’t look like us, talk like us or even believe like us? This is where Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.

In the Bible Christ tells us, “Do no resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” It seems like an insurmountable request to ask a human being not to strike back when someone has hurt us. Here is the spiritual gift of Kindness. God’s intention for us is to be loving. God is love. The action of that love is manifested as Kindness.

In order to have Kindness descend upon us as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, we must abandon our own will. Our will often seeks retribution, revenge, and payment of some sort. We harbor resentments and pain until we are brimming with it like overflowing bitter coffee. It is only through asking for God’s will in our lives that Kindness can manifest its presence and we can turn to our tormentors, accusers, and poisoners with a kind heart.

It isn’t easy by any means. There are times I want to be bitter and angry at the people that hurt me. But I have learned something powerfully important in the past few years. Hurt people hurt people. Quite often, those that have sown evil had evil sown in them. It is a hurtful cycle that only Kindness can begin to stop like a stick in a quickly rotating wheel. An act of Kindness can stop a person and change their day, week, month, year and perhaps their lives. Extraordinary acts of Kindness have burned like bright torches in the midst of absolute darkness. One need not look any further than the stories of Kindness in the midst of World War II to see the impact of Kindness.

Kindness in the face of pain and tormentors is a fruit of the Spirit. Without submission to God’s will, I often stumble in demonstrating Kindness to mean people. It is easy to be kind to my loving family and friends. Not so much to those that have thrown daggers at my back in hopes that they would stick. With them, I ask for God’s help. I ask for the ability to be Kind.

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