Kindness: A Fruit of the Spirit
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” -Ephesians 2:4-5
The culture we live in seeks to destroy all evidence of kindness in men. The term kindness is not a precise term, and is similar to many things such as niceness, tenderheartedness, compassion, and mercy. From a very young age boys are taught never to cry, never to show vulnerability, never to show your heart. Nice guys finish last. Always be closing. Show no mercy. We admire the actions of brutes and bullies, and wish we were them. Those guys have the world by the balls, they’re “winning.”
In many cases this image that boys are taught to project is tied so strongly to their understanding of men, that to show kindness is equivalent to femininity. I’d be willing to bet good money that at a time in your childhood when you were feeling the most hurt and afraid someone told you to “Man up.” The men who say this are often well-meaning, seeking to instill virtues like perseverance or tenacity or resilience, but we must also teach our boys what it says in Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
As men we learn the lesson well that a tender heart is a vulnerable one. We harden our hearts to try to diminish pain and maintain our edge in competition, because we know that if someone can get to our hearts, they have power over us. Nothing in this world makes my heart melt faster than seeing my wife in tears, even more so if I know that it’s because of something I’ve done. At that point I know I am undone, and whatever hardness or resolve I had to stand my ground in whatever stupid fight we are having vanishes like smoke in the wind. This happens regardless of who is right or wrong. I have compassion for my grieving wife, and my only concern is to make her whole again. That is the fruit of kindness and mercy at work, and it is only from God that these feelings arise. She may be completely undeserving of my compassion at that moment in my eyes, but God’s spirit moves me to compassion just the same. God demonstrated this mercy and lovingkindness in his own character when he sent his only son to die on behalf of me, an undeserving sinner. This character of God is part of true masculinity, and those who cannot or refuse to show it are more monster than man.
Heavenly Father, your kindness is beyond compare, that you would sacrifice your son for my sake. Even as I am undeserving, you deal with me kindly. Send your Holy Spirit to dwell with me as you have promised, and prompt me in your ways. Soften my heart to the things that grieve you. Open my eyes and let me show your kindness and mercy to the undeserving. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!