THE FRUIT OF KINDNESS
THE FRUIT OF KINDNESS
The fruit of gentleness may be appropriately defined as the fruit of kindness. According to W.E. Vine, one Greek scholar has described gentleness, or kindness, as "a kindly disposition toward others," whereas goodness is defined as "a kindly activity on their behalf."
Without kindness, there will be no manifested goodness. This is especially true in the case of forgiveness: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32).
Kindness brings a tender disposition, which is especially necessary in manifesting the good works of forgiveness.
Light is a type of the fruit of goodness. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said that light is a person's good works, or works of goodness. He taught His followers: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works...."
Paul recognized the precedence of kindness and demonstrated how this principle operates in the relationship of a mother and her children (1 Thess. 2:7-8). Since a mother's heart is very tender and gentle (kind) toward her children, works of goodness manifest through her on their behalf.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.According to Paul, if believers murmur, dispute, and complain, their lights will not shine. The murmurings and disputings cause their dispositions to change, which in effect causes their lights to cease shining; that is, it causes their good works to cease being manifested.
The fruit of kindness must be developed in our lives if we are to "shine as lights in the world" (v. 15).
If the enemy can steal or distort the fruit of kindness in a believer's life, then the fruit of goodness will automatically wither. Jesus said we believers are first the salt of the earth, then the light of the world.
So, if the enemy can take away our savor, our light will not shine. For this reason, this study will deal specifically and exclusively with the functions and the development of the fruit of kindness, or gentleness.
The main function of the fruit of kindness is that it enables believers to be the salt of the earth. More specifically, being the salt of the earth performs three works. These three spiritual effects of kindness may be compared to three of the many physical attributes of salt.
The majority of those who experience the New Birth do so because they first experience the loving kindness of God, for kindness is a forerunner of regeneration.
When an unbeliever experiences God's kindness, the soil of his heart is prepared to receive the seed of the Word. Then, as he hears the Word of regeneration, his receptive heart accepts that seed, which produces the fruit of reconciliation.
Believers, who are the salt of the earth, are God's expression of His kindness and goodness to the world. The fruit of kindness in the lives of His children is the fullness of Jesus manifested to the world.
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;The word "conversation" in verses 1 and 2 actually means "behavior." In other words, believers can reach a place in their lives where not only through hearing the word of God people are saved.
But unbelievers will be won to the Lord simply by watching the lives of believers and beholding their "chaste" (the Greek word is hagnos,which means "immaculate") manner of life.
Quite often, unbelievers will notice a difference in a particular believer's manner of life that he does not publicly practice any bad habits such as cursing, smoking, or drinking. They take note that he is very self-disciplined in prayer, Bible study, and church attendance.
Yet, they still do not become converted. One reason for this may be that this particular believer does not have a meek and quiet spirit; his light may be hidden under the "bushel" of a rude disposition.
Therefore, believers who are frustrated because no one seems to be interested in receiving their Christian witness should check the degree of development of the fruit of kindness in their lives.
How can we believers be rude to people, and then expect a favorable response when we try to witness to them? It seems absurd that anyone would even try to win others to his way of life when he himself is so obnoxious and unattractive. Yet this very thing occurs frequently.
For example, a wife may stay at home, read her Bible, and pray while her unbelieving husband is out on the town drinking and carousing; but if she becomes angry and upset with him when he comes home, then he will either ignore or scorn the Bible in her lap and the prayer on her lips.
However, if that wife develops a meek and quiet spirit and greets her wayward husband at the door with the loving kindness of God, then she will get his attention. He will notice her chaste manner of living.
That fruit of kindness will fertilize his heart so that he will receive the Word that is working in her, and thus be won to the Lord. He will not be won by an emotional sermon or a Gospel tract or a doctrinal dissertation.
Instead, he will be won by the living epistle being enacted before his eyes by his wife, a visual representation of the loving kindness of the heavenly Father.