Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control (Galatians 5: 22-23).
Are you always comfortable? If you are, then you need to force yourself into difficult situations to develop character. People often complain because they are uncomfortable. What if you took the uncomfortable situation as an opportunity to demonstrate a particular fruit of the spirit? For example, in the midst of an unloving person you may have the opportunity to show love. During a depressing situation you may have the opportunity to display the joy of the Lord. During a time of conflict you may have the opportunity to portray peace. During a time sensitive moment you may have the opportunity to represent patience. While in a negative situation you can provide a kind heart. In a situation that may seem meaningless you may have the opportunity to find goodness in it. When everyone else is giving up you may have the opportunity to remain faithful. When rough and aggressive situations arise you may have the opportunity to give a gentle response. When many are falling to temptation you may have the opportunity to display self-control. Let us pray, “Lord please provide an opportunity for me to be uncomfortable so that I may further develop all or some of the fruits of the spirit.”
Character Focus: Kindness
God has shown immense kindness to us and we are instructed to continue in that kindness with others. “For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off (Romans 11: 21-22).” Some of the ways that one can show kindness are:
Help others without thought of reward;
Have patience with faultiness;
Put the needs of others before your own;
Share the good things in your life;
Be genuinely interested in others;
Give of your own time;
Be well-mannered and courteous;
Share another’s affliction;
Resist the urge to talk about others unkindly.
Kindness is more than an act. More important than the act of kindness is the intentionality behind the act. To illustrate, a person that provides a compliment to another person to persuade them to do a favor is not the sort of kindness that would emulate the character of Christ. On the other hand, an adult that anonymously pays for another family’s meal with a note that reads “Jesus Loves You,” is something that spreads Christ’s kindness to others.
Kindness should glorify God not yourself. In October of 2000 a movie was released titled, “Pay it Forward.” In the movie a young boy, inspired by his teacher, performed random acts of kindness to people that eventually made a large impact in society. When was the last time you did something kind for someone without any strings attached, or better yet anonymously? The American culture is to bring attention to oneself. The culture of Christ is to bring attention to God.
There are some educational character initiatives as a result of violence in the schools. On April 20th, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School and massacred eleven students and one teacher. One of whom was Rachel Scott who was especially kind and compassionate toward others. In response to this act, Rachel’s Challenge was launched. This program encourages others to display kindness and compassion in schools similar to how Rachel did. Rachel’s challenge is a comprehensive elementary and secondary curriculum that provides one way to implement kindness and compassion into schools to build character (Hollingshead, B., Crump, C., Eddy, R., & Rowe, D., 2009). Violence in schools may be avoided by encouraging kindness through purposeful character development programs like Rachel’s Challenge.
Choose to be kind today.
Dr. Nathan Herzog
Hollingshead, B., Crump, C., Eddy, R., & Rowe, D. (2009). Rachel’s Challenge: A Moral Compass for Character Education. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 45(3), 111-115. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.