But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . kindness. (v. 22)
One of my favorite poets, Naomi Shahib Nye, wrote a poem called “Kindness” in which she depicts kindness as something we can only really know when we have also known sorrow. I like this contrast; it evokes the sense in which kindness is so much more than just “niceness.” Being nice can be a superficial endeavor, but to show kindness usually requires drawing a little deeper on our reserves.
A friend of mine recently expressed sadness about the church she and her husband and two children had started attending. “No one has ever even said ‘Hi’ to us there,” she remarked. What my friend and her family have experienced is not just a failure of niceness but a glaring absence of the kindness that God desires for us to show to one another, the kindness that welcomes both friends and strangers in the name of Christ. I felt sorrow that my friend’s church community would overlook repeated opportunities to show the fruit of kindness. It’s also hard to imagine a church like that showing kindness outside its doors if it doesn’t demonstrate much kindness inside.
Left to our own devices, we might only summon the energy to be nice to those we like, or who like us, or who we get along with, or with whom we have a lot in common. That’s the way of the flesh. May the way of the Spirit prevail, and kindness abound.
As you pray, ask God to teach you to show kindness.
About the Author
Jessica Bratt Carle lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she has served as a chaplain and more recently as a clinical ethicist at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) since 2017. She is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She and her husband have two young sons.