In Galatians 5 the Apostle Paul uses the Greek word chrēstotēs to describe kindness. It has synonyms such as “moral goodness” and “integrity” Greek writers in Paul’s day used this word to denote something that was suitable and proper for the occasion, especially when evaluating someone’s moral excellence. To Greek philosophers, this word described an inner greatness shown by an outer goodness. In other words, it had more to do with character than charity.

The Apostle Paul’s knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, along with his concept of kindness being a cultured and graceful act of the will, allows him to express the dynamics of such transformed love in words that make New Testament readers sit up and take notice. Writing to Roman believers, who tended to be critical of each other, Paul admonishes them by asking “Are you about to throw God’s wonderful kindness, tolerance, and patience back in His face? Don’t you realize God’s kindness will give you the ability to change the way you act?1

And when writing to the Corinthians Paul told them how he tried not to be a stumbling-block to those he came to minister to. As a servant of God, Paul wanted to be known for having the spirit of purity, understanding, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love.2 And in his letter to the Colossians, Paul encourages them as God’s chosen people to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.3 Also, when writing to Titus, Paul spoke of the change that came to him, Titus, and others when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared and He saved them.4 And in his letter to the Romans, Paul told them: “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.”5

Paul touches on a critical point in explaining the effect of kindness. Even when those to whom we show unsolicited and often unappreciated kindness do not at first seem grateful, Paul believes that given enough time and under the influence of the Holy Spirit it will have a positive effect. One question we might ask is this: if it takes a large amount of continual kindness to turn some people around, what are their chances of changing course if we show no kindness at all?

One of the finest examples in showing kindness is the story of how David treated the crippled grandson of King Saul, one of Jonathan’s sons, whose name was Mephibosheth. When we consider all the torment and trouble that Saul caused David, even trying to kill him on numerous occasions, why would David want to return such ill-will with such good-will? David reveals that it was a promise he made to God. God did not demand it; neither did God send a prophet or angel to convince David to do it; David did it out of his own heart. What an example of the type of kindness the Holy Spirit wants to produce in every believer’s heart as the fruit of transformed love. And since kindness is Love cultured and graceful, we see that an Old Testament believer set a high bar for New Testament believers to try and do the same. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

1 Romans 2:4

2 2 Corinthians 6:6

3 Colossians 3:12

4 Titus 3:4-5

5 Romans 11:22

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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