"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a
sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be Like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
-Isaiah 58:11 (NIV 1984)
As I thought about the upcoming Christmas holidays and all that is involved in getting ready for the season, the words kind and kindness came to mind. I have endeavored to live by those words. Even so, I realized that in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it can be easy for each of us to neglect this fruit of the Spirit that the Bible encourages us to practice.
In chapter 5 of his letter to the churches of Galatia, the Apostle Paul reminded them to let the Holy Spirit guide their lives. He told the churches that the carnal nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.
Here is how Galatians 5:19–26 reads in the New Living Translation:
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Every day, we should be putting our carnal nature down and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is important to practice every one of the fruits of the Spirit. However, I want to concentrate here on kindness. What does it mean to be kind? One dictionary says it means to be "gentle, tender, compassionate, kindhearted." It goes on to say, "Kind implies a deep-seated characteristic shown either habitually or on occasion by considerate behavior."*
Ephesians 4:31–32 (NLT) admonishes us, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."
I think kindness has been neglected in our self-centered world. Instead of looking for what we can do for others, we seem to concentrate on what others can do for us. We can demonstrate kindness in many ways. It can be through a smile and a kind word such as, "I'm thinking about you and praying for you." That can lift a person's morale.
It's important to be sensitive to those around us. We can extend a helping hand by simply opening a door or offering to carry someone's package. Just yesterday I was checking out of a store and thinking of the effort it was going to take to lift some heavy items into the car. Suddenly a store employee who was leaving for the day called my name and said, "Let me unload your shopping cart." I had purchased some large cans. Even though they were in a box, I would have had to lift them one at a time into the car. He was able to lift the entire box at once. I marveled at his strength and thanked him for his kindness. My, what a blessing he was to me!
That same evening I was in a restaurant waiting to be seated. There was quite a long wait and there were no vacant chairs. Suddenly a man sitting and waiting with his family got up and offered me his chair. I began to be thankful that there were still people in this world who exemplify kindness.
Acts of kindness are so satisfying. Last year our church had a campaign where we looked for ways to show kindness toward others anonymously. It was so rewarding for me to pay for a family's meal and watch them look around to see who had blessed them. It blessed me to see others blessed. That brought Acts 20:35 to light: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
I encourage you to look for ways each day to show kindness to others. I also encourage you to teach your children the meaning of that word. Have a blessed Christmas, and most importantly, remember the reason for the season: God showed His love and kindness to us through the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
* kind. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random
House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kind