The Fruit of The Lips: Kindness

FOTL 3-2

God’s Loving Kindness

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7, ESV)

The last attribute that we studied was the fruit of patience. Patience, we noted, was love by restraint. In a sense, patience is passive. Kindness adds to patience an active aspect of love. With its ultimate expression in sacrifice, love not only has the self-discipline to withhold frustration, but it has an abundance of grace that pours forth into kindness. It is glorious to us that God was (and is) patient in dealing with us, not delivering his justice immediately but showing steadfast love and forbearance, leading us to repentance by his kindness (Rom. 2:4). But what’s more is that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV).

God is a giver, and not of small things, and not sparingly. He gives us a world of life and glory. This world could be a cold and lifeless, bleak and without hope. Light could have no spectrum of color, or sound no variation or harmonies. Food could be scarce and bland. There could be no diversity of species. No stories to tell. No sense of glory or goodness or beauty. We could live in a world where there was no helper fit for Adam, where we are doomed to loneliness and isolation. But God is kind.

Even as were dead in our sin, and even our here east of Eden, God has given us kindness.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1–3, ESV)

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, ESV)

His love has not ended at the point of patience but has moved beyond forbearance into lavishing those whom he could rightly condemn. God’s kindness is not modest or trivial; He even gives over His only begotten Son.

How is it, then, that we can receive such love through kindness and yet find kindness so difficult to express in our lives? As Job says, “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14, ESV).

If you cannot express kindness, then you need to be afraid. Afraid that you aren’t seeing God correctly. Afraid that you are not seeing with horror what inconsistency there is between God’s ways and your own. God creates a world of warmth and beauty; a world that delights. God creates a world that serves our needs — it yields not only beauty but fruit and resources. God is not silent — He speaks to us in words of compassion, calling us to receive the “riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). God gives to us kindness through self, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8).

As we are entrusted to love the Lord our God, to love our neighbors, and to love our home, our imitation of God here should look like kindness expressed by the atmosphere we create, the provisions we supply, the words we speak, and sacrifices that we make.

In the home, it is loving to create an atmosphere of kindness. We should build and decorate and adorn in such a way that those in our care are served, welcomed, and delighted. Our homes should promote godliness and growth, beauty and truth, togetherness and worship, belonging and encouragement, not ugliness, distraction, and isolation.

In our provisions, we should bless those under our care. We should bless them with the kindness of rich and healthy meals. And there are times when you need to bless your home with unhealthy meals. Don’t be the kind of parent that a child suffers under. Don’t make the kid eat “ants on a log” at the birthday party when everyone else has oreos and ice cream. Don’t calculate your kindness in ways that stifle and suit your predetermined amount of how much kindness someone deserves. You are not the standard - God is. I’m not saying God demands that you give your kid cavities,  but I am saying that God gives plenty of things that could be bad for us if we overindulged. Our abuse of them doesn’t stop Him from giving those things. Give laughter, proper clothing and adornment, a listening ear, games and playfulness, wise counsel, instruction and correction, jokes, stories, pillow fights, tickle fights, dance nights, poetry, good books, and music.

In our speech, we should pass through our homes like a gardener who must water his plants. He should encourage and engage, expressing his love. He should speak to his home as a prophet, watering those in his care with truth, goodness, and beauty — giving to his home the words of life and the knowledge of the Lord. He is to give wise counsel, rebuke when he sees those in his care possibly going astray, and He is to give correction when they do go astray. And here’s a kicker — he has as much water at his disposal as possible — there is no shortage if he needs it. Our only issue here is lack of use. For whatever reason, kindness often will not leave our lips. We reserve it for manipulation — we will be kind if we need something or if we are overcorrecting for something. We see service in our home and we leave our gratitude unexpressed. We receive loyalty and faithfulness from our spouses and we leave it unacknowledged. Much more easily than expressing kindness unprovoked is the expressing of our displeasure and irritations. Someone who speaks in criticism, annoyance, fatigue, impatience, condemnation, accusation and hyperbole is watering their home as much as the faithful gardener, but they are pouring gasoline on their marriage and on their children. They, too, seem to have no lack of resources; it’s just going to destroy those under your care.

Thank God that he isn’t like this!

To quote Job again,“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14, ESV).

And we are to be kind in our actions — our sacrifices. We are to inhabit the kindness that we have been given. Our families and our neighbors should hear our love and see our love. God is a gift-giver. He gives rain on the just and the unjust. He demonstrates and proves Himself to be lavish. He gives Himself — His time and His ear and His wisdom. He gives His son. He is preparing an eternal glory for us. What have you done to earn any of it? What do you make those in your world do to deserve your kindness?

Give. Give freely and lavishly.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, ESV).

We are not only to be kind, but we are to love being kind. It should not come from us through clenched fists or spoken through pursed lips — kindness should be a fruit that simply grows on the tree. It’s there in us,  and because we abide in the vine kindness becomes a part of our character and expression of worship.


Grace To Those Who Hear

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29–32, ESV)

Kindness builds. It speaks with words that fit the occasion -- words that are gifts of grace. Kindness is also tenderhearted. It sees the frame of those in need and considers it, just like how God knows our frame and our needs, he condescends to encourage and serve Psalm 103. “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3, ESV). That is a kindness!

When someone in your life has wronged you, do you see their frame? Do you forgive one another with a tender heart as Christ has forgiven you? Do you wait for the other person to make the first move? Do you wait until your marriage serves your perceived needs before you speak words of kindness? Do you think that by giving kindness away that you will be letting people off the hook? Maybe you fear that you are losing a way of manipulating and steering them? If you were to be kind they may not notice your hurt any longer. You may believe that you want intimacy and trust and harmony with someone sometime down the line, but you aren’t willing to give intimacy and kindness to them. Here’s a challenge — show them how to do it. You lose nothing by being kind other than your pride. And good riddance. We are to love kindness — loving even our enemies.


The Teaching of Kindness

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”” (Proverbs 31:25–29, ESV)

The Proverbs Thirty One woman has many remarkable traits, but a unique one is how she is said to exemplify kindness — she teaches it on her tongue. She instructs others on how to be kind, demonstrating kindness in her own speech. Many of us can be blind to the dynamics of instructing our children to use their manners, to say “please” and “thank you”, and then completely fail to notice the unkindness that comes off of our own lips–especially in the home (especially toward our spouses). There are those whose mouths are like a dragon’s, filled with acid and fire, or there are those whose mouths are like the breath of Aslan, giving life and encouragement and hope. Kindness goes out of its way to build, to water, to support, to encourage. It takes effort and humility. And here we are reminded of the power of example. Just as it’s the mother who frequently is tasked with making her home warm and lovely through design and decor or with meals, she also leads the way in the cultivation of belonging and comfort through gracious speech.


Rebuke as Kindness

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.” (Psalm 141:5, ESV)

Several times I have mentioned that kindness brings comfort - a sense of belonging. And that’s true, but sometimes that only comes after kindness brings discomfort. For many of us, we have been taught that it is textbook kindness to tolerate the sins in our neighbors. We almost have no category for kindness and rebuke or kindness in correction. Instead, we usually take the path of least resistance. Maybe we will pray for them, but we allow them to keep doing what they are doing, keep to ourselves, claiming kindness in our silence.

But the Bible says that the mercy of the wicked is cruel (Prov. 12:10), but it is a kindness for a righteous man to rebuke. The “mercy”, of a wicked man isn’t kind; it’s cruel. To allow someone to suffer in sin while we remain silent in the name of manners and decorum is cowardly and cruel. The Bible helps us to see rightly—to see clearly. It resets our definitions and retunes our reality. To speak the truth in love, to bring the gospel with its call for repentance and belief, is kindness.


Kindness as A Gift

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22, ESV)

How foolish and how blind were Adam and Eve. God had opulently provided for them and they still let their lusts prevail. With us, we have the loving kindness of God not only in countless provisions, but in the specific provision of His Son. May God grant us eyes to see this. Let us not be conned into believing that there is more for us somewhere else. May we have the perspective of Peter who when asked if he would leave said, “Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life (Jn. 6:68).


Thoughts On Specific But Potentially Not Obvious Ways of Being Kind:

  • Manners — Love in trifles.

  • If you are cranky when you get home, stop in the garage and pray.

  • Be an active listener. Don’t interrupt and don’t seek ways to draw attention and the conversation back to you or your experience all the time.

  • If you are snippy when trying to get out of the house, then get up earlier or set out your clothes the night before.

  • Not leaving a mess behind you through the day. Don’t make others live in discomfort because of your thoughtlessness or laziness.

  • It is a kindness to be diligent about your work so that you can be present for others.

  • It is a kindness to get a grip on yourself, not subjecting others to your mood swings, irritation, and lack of self-control.

  • If you are stressed when company is coming over and everyone is afraid to see the nice tablecloths coming out, then prep earlier.

  • Put your phone away.