The next two characteristics that God calls for us to adopt to be pleasing in the sight of God are kindness and goodness. Immediately we may think that these words are simply redundant. Goodness is defined by Thayer as “uprightness of heart and life.” Kindness is defined by Thayer as “moral goodness, integrity.” Strong’s adds “moral excellence” as a description of the word “kindness.” We can see that the definitions of these two words are fairly similar. In studying these characteristics, I thought Jerry Bridges related these two words together well: “Kindness is a sincere desire for the happiness of others; goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness.” Therefore, kindness is about having the desire for good things to happen to others. Goodness is doing activities to ensure that those good things do happen to others. Kindness requires an awareness of others and the thoughtfulness to want to bring goodness to their lives.
Consider two reasons why we need to reflect these characteristics of kindness and goodness. First, we see these very characteristics in Jesus. If you were asked to describe Jesus in one sentence to someone, what would you say? In describing Jesus to Cornelius and his household, notice how Peter describes Jesus: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and curing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus went about doing good. All that Jesus ever said and ever did was for the good of others physically and spiritually. Since we are commanded to walk as Jesus walked, we must see the need to exhibit kindness and goodness at all times to all people.
Second, if we are not exhibiting kindness and performing goodness to others, then we are not children of God. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Luke 6:35; ESV). Loving our enemies and doing good are required if we are to be son of the Most High. So, these characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit are not optional. So what can we do to exhibit these characteristics?
God’s Unfailing Kindness and Goodness
The New Testament has much to say about the kindness of God. In the Luke passage we just read, notice God’s kindness: “For He is kind to the ungrateful and evil.” Notice this same idea taught by Paul: “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).
The scriptures place a great emphasis on God’s loving kindness and goodness. But notice that God’s goodness is contrasted with our lack of goodness. I think we would expect the scriptures to say that God is kind to the grateful and the righteous. But the point is being made that God is even kind to the ungrateful and evil. There is nothing that we have done to deserve God’s loving kindness. God is kind and good toward all people: the ungrateful, the wicked, the lost, the hopeless, and the rebellious. Therefore, if we are going to be like God, then we also must be kind to all people.
This is difficult. It is easy to be kind and practice acts of goodness toward the people that we like. “Be kind to one another” is not too difficult if the “one another” is referring to each other in this room. But now we are breaking down the boundaries of where our kindness and goodness is to extend. We cannot simply show kindness toward our family, friends, and neighbors that we like. God shows love to even the despicable, the wicked, and the ungrateful. Think about a time when you have done good toward someone who was completely ungrateful for what you did. What was your response from their ungratefulness? I would say that all of thought in our minds that we would never do something nice like that again toward that person. “If they are not going to appreciate what I did, then I am not going to do anything else for them.” But did God think this way? Friends, we do not appreciate what God has done for us. We would surely be a miserable people if God decided to think the same way we think toward the ungrateful.
Look again at what Jesus is teaching. “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same” (Luke 6:33). “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…” (Luke 6:35). We must begin with the knowledge and realization that I need to desire goodness toward others, even my enemies. I need to reflect the love of God toward people who, in our estimation, seem undeserving because God loves and shows kindness to the undeserving.
Created To Do Good (Ephesians 2:8-10)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Paul again speaks about the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in Ephesians 2:7. This kindness led God to save us by His grace. Many stop reading at this point but notice we are God’s workmanship, created with a particular purpose. We were “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Take out the parenthetical that God prepared all of this beforehand and see that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works and that we should walk in good works. We are to walk in good works, meaning that our life is patterned by doing good to others. Kindness and goodness are not rare events, but are a daily life activity. Since we are to walk in good works, then we need to consider every aspect of our lives and how we do good in every circumstance.
Work. Think about your job. How can you show kindness and perform goodness while at work? Could we help co-workers accomplish their tasks instead of only focusing on our own tasks? Could we volunteer to help out when needed? Could we not complain, but speak nicely to those we are working with? Perhaps we can be more friendly, even though we may be busy or having a bad day. Doing good is even giving our best, full effort in our work. Think about what you can do in your work.
Daily Activities.Think about what you do on a regular basis on the weekdays and on the weekends. Think about all the people you come across. Can we show acts of kindness to our neighbors? Even simple things like saying “hello” to people we see, rather than putting our head down and ignoring people is an easy thing everyone can do. This may be silly, but I try to say thank you to people who are serving me. When the cashier hands me the change, I try to say thank you. When the waiter or waitress refills my drink or brings my food, I try to say thank you. Hopefully I am helpful by saying something nice while this person works under stressful circumstances. Who do you encounter that you may never see again? How can you show kindness and goodness toward them?
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10; HCSB). We are commanded by Paul to labor for the good of others. Effort will need to be exerted on our part to accomplish good. We must look for opportunities to do good works with believers and unbelievers. We need to be able to think about the last time we worked for the good of others. It should not be some far, distance memory. Further, we should be especially helping one another, the Christians meeting here. As we have mentioned previously, there are a number of people here who need help spiritually and physically. We need to be working for the good of them, especially during their times of need.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9; ESV). It can be easy to wear out from doing good. We must be careful that we do not slack on the work of kindness and goodness because we may not feel appreciated. We cannot become slack on doing good to others because we have decided to turn our attentions inward. We must reject the teachings found on television that we are take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.
- God has exhibited loving kindness and goodness to all people, even the undeserving, evil, and ungrateful. We are to do the same.
- We must seek out opportunities to perform acts of goodness on those of faith, the people we know in the world, and to the strangers we come across from our life activities.
- Do not grow weary in working good in the lives of others. God will reward us for our efforts.
- Apply these principles to your enemies, people you do not like, and people who you do not get along with. Do good toward them. You may find out that they will no longer be your enemy by doing so.
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).