Galatians 5:22New International Version (NIV)But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
These things are known as the Fruit of the Spirit or as the Message calls them - the things that happen when we live God's way. There are some big groovy concepts here. LOVE! JOY! PEACE! These are all huge things that you can spend a lifetime trying to attain and then die having failed miserably. (Joke) (Bad Joke) I got to thinking about one of the fruits which is a bit unassuming looking but may be the most muscular of them all.
It takes courage to be kind.
This morning I was absorbed in the newspaper and my other half was staring out of the window. "I'm just going to see Stan - he's just standing in the street." Then HOH disappears out the front door. Stan is our elderly neighbour. He hasn't had a good year health wise but is doing ok now. HOH was just concerned that he might have come over a bit peculiar and wanted to know if he needed help. HOH is very good at this sort of thing. He just sees something and reacts kindly. As it turned out, Stan was just a bit puffed and didn't need HOH.
I'm not sure I would have reacted as quickly, not because I don't care but because I lack courage. I think before I put my head over the parapet. What if Stan doesn't want help? What if I'm embarrassed? What if he reacts angrily? (I have never heard Stan react angrily to anything - I didn't say that it was logical did I?)
It takes courage to be kind because kindness can sometimes be perceived as weakness. Choosing not to wipe the floor with someone and giving them another chance can mark you out as someone who can't hack it or someone who is scared of confrontation.
At the other end of the scale, it takes courage to join an aid convoy to take much needed relief to a war torn country. Kindness there may actually lose you your life in the most horrific of ways.
I suppose like most fruits it grows when it is cultivated. You do it again and again and it becomes easier. It becomes a way of thinking to say the kind, inclusive thing rather than shrink back and agree with the unkind majority. You begin to learn that it is ok to see if someone needs you or not. These worst thing that can happen is that they can tell you to sling your hook. A while back I came across an elderly lady who was sitting among the dog biscuits in Sainsbury's. After a fair bit of prevaricating I asked if she felt unwell. She said that she was fine thank you and to leave her alone (with added F words to covey to me how strongly she felt) So I did. No harm done.
And kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit - so God helps us to do it by giving us the desire to help. The Message translates kindness as
a sense of compassion in the heart
which is really good. Just not always that easy to do.