All the fruits of the Spirit taste good and radiate an eternal glory. Some of them are listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” He who called us from darkness to His marvelous light has called us to proclaim His glory. We are to be a royal priesthood in this work. (1 Peter 2:9)
Kindness is one of the Spirit’s noble fruits. A crushing of everything that is hard in our own life must have occurred if we are to proclaim the glory of kindness. Kindness is firmly united with the wisdom that is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits. (James 3:17)
Everything that God creates is firm and immovable, and it does its deep work. We read in Proverbs 25:15 that a gentle tongue breaks a bone. No one can overcome the power of gentleness with evil. Gentleness, through all goodness and meekness, makes the heavenly things appear exceedingly great and the earthly things small – so that they are not worth arguing and fighting over.
Paul had a radical message: the cross and death over every kind of sin; but when it came to carrying out what he proclaimed, he came with kind and good words, full of hope, comfort, and help. He writes in 2 Corinthians 10:1, “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – who in presence am lowly among you …”
In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 he writes, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” Through this kindness, in his care and goodness, everything that was hard was crushed, and the church could grow up in genuine brotherly love as children of the light, waiting for Jesus’ return.
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient …” 2 Timothy 2:24. One of the easiest things to do is to argue with someone. Quite often the voice is raised in judgment and criticism. One allegation follows another, and the spirit of lying soon enters in.
“A fool gives vent to all his anger, but a wise man holds it back and silences it.” Proverbs 29:11. A gentle and wise tongue can dampen many an outbreak of anger and can prevent many a marriage from breaking up.
David said about Saul and Jonathan that they were mighty warriors, but were beloved and pleasant (gentle) in life. David himself was the same, only to a much deeper degree. In 2 Samuel 22:35-36 he says, “He teaches my hands to make war … Your gentleness has made me great.” What makes a person great is when he overcomes the evil with good. Jesus was both a lion and a lamb.
Joseph is a great example of kindness, goodness, and reconciliation. It was in his power to take revenge on his brothers, but goodness was victorious. When he revealed himself to his brothers, he began to weep so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, even in Pharaoh’s house. When he sent his brothers home to fetch their father, Jacob, he said, “See that you do not argue along the way.” This should not happen on such an important mission on which they had been sent – on the way to their father.
When we think about the important mission we have received on the way to our heavenly Father, we should be deeply ashamed of every thought of disunity and strife. (Read Genesis 45)
Kind words proceed from a pure and good heart. Jesus received the tongue of the learned from His Father so He could refresh the weary with His Word. (Isaiah 50:4) Such tongues are in great demand for helping and comforting. Kind words are precious.
“The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:23-24.
The letter to Philemon is an extraordinary letter of kindness and goodness. May God give abundant grace to use the sword of the Spirit and the gentle tongue, in the right spirit and at the right time.
This is an adapted version of an article that was first published in Norwegian under the title “The Fruits of the Spirit” in BCC’s periodical “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) in November, 1992.
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