10 Key Bible Verses on Kindness

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

1. Romans 2:1–4

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Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Read More

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God does not condemn them merely because they judged others but because they practiced the same sins they condemned in others (the very same things, especially those mentioned in Romans 1:29–31). All people are without excuse because all, without exception, have sinned against God.

Do you presume is probably directed against Jews who thought that their covenant relationship with God would shield them from final judgment. After all, they had often experienced his kindness and forbearance and patience. They thought such blessings showed that they were right with God and had no need to trust in Christ, but Paul says the opposite is true: God’s blessings should have led them to repent of their sins.

2. Galatians 5:22–24

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Read More

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The Spirit fights against sin not merely in defense but also in attack by producing in Christians the positive attributes of godly character, all of which are evident in Jesus in the Gospels. Kindness means showing goodness, generosity, and sympathy toward others, which likewise is an attribute of God (Rom. 2:4).

Against such things there is no law, and therefore those who manifest them are fulfilling the law—more than those who insist on Jewish ceremonies, and likewise more than those who follow the works of the flesh surveyed in Gal. 5:19–21.

Again, Christ and the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) come together as the source of the believer’s life. Christians have crucified the flesh, or died with Christ to sin (see Gal. 6:14; Rom. 6:4–6). Now that the old order of things has passed away for believers, their old sinful selves that belonged to that order have crumbled as well—so they should pay no attention to them. “Flesh” here should not be understood to mean physical bodies but rather fallen, sinful human nature with all its desires.

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3. Ephesians 4:31–32

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Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Read More

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All bitterness means “every kind of bitterness.” “All” also modifies the other items in the list, telling readers to put away all wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. “Bitterness” may head the list because it so often leads to the other sins that Paul names. Bitterness comes from a heart that is not right before God (Acts 8:21–23); it is a primary characteristic of an unregenerate person (Rom. 3:10–14); and it causes destruction and defilement (Heb. 12:15). Bitterness and resentment are thus incompatible with Christian character and must be put away. People often are very careless with their speech (“slander”), even though the tongue can ignite a forest fire of harm to others (James 3:5–6).

Being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving flows from constantly remembering that God first forgave us and that we need his forgiveness daily, as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12; cf. Luke 11:4).

4. Luke 6:35–36

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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. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Read More

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God hates evil, but he still brings many blessings in this life even to his enemies (Luke 6:45) by means of “common grace” (the favor that he gives to all people and not just to believers). These blessings are intended to lead unbelievers to repentance (Acts 14:17; Rom. 2:4). Of course, there is a sense in which God hates those who are resolutely and impenitently wicked (cf. Ps. 5:5; 11:5; Eph. 2:3), but God’s blessings of common grace constitute his primary providential action toward mankind here and now.

Keeping the commands of Luke 6:35a results in your reward being great (cf. Luke 6:23). You will be sons does not mean “you will become sons” but “you will demonstrate that you are sons” by imitating God’s care and compassion even for those who are evil.

5. Colossians 3:12–13

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Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Read More

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Paul calls the Colossians to a holy lifestyle, consistent with their new identity. Believers have been chosen by God and stand before him as his beloved holy ones. They are to live up to what they are in Christ.

Tolerance is a virtue within the Christian community, although Paul clearly does not want the Colossians to tolerate the false teaching. When wronged and betrayed, Christians are called to forgive others, even as they have been forgiven for their betrayal of Christ. See Matt. 6:12, Matt. 6:14–15; Matt.18:21–22.

6. Galatians 6:9–10

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And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Read More

While believers await their rewards (Gal. 6:7–9) they should do good. The primary focus should be on serving those in the church, but never to the exclusion of people in the wider world. As Jesus made clear (e.g., Matt. 6:33), the Christian’s primary allegiance is to the kingdom of God, with God as our heavenly Father (Matt. 6:9, 32; 12:50; cf. Matt. 8:21–22), rather than to friends, the workplace, school, sports, or to anything else, even earthly families.

7. Ephesians 2:4–7

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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—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Read More

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No hopeless fate looks any grimmer than that which awaits the forlorn company of mankind marching behind the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) to their destruction under divine wrath. Just when things look the most desolate, Paul utters the greatest short phrase in the history of human speech: “But God!” rich in mercy. God’s mercy on his helpless enemies flows from his own loving heart, not from anything they have done to deserve it.

Paul resumes his original thought, which began with “you were dead” in Ephesians 2:1. God gave us regeneration (new spiritual life within). This and the two verbs in Ephesians 2:6 (“raised up” and “seated with”) make up the main verbs of the long sentence in Ephesians 2:1–10. Since Christians were dead, they first had to be made alive before they could believe (and God did that together with Christ).

“Raised us up with him” means that, because of Christ’s resurrection, those who believe in him are given new life spiritually in this age (regeneration). They will also be given renewed physical bodies when Christ returns (future resurrection). God has allowed his people even now to share in a measure of the authority that Christ has, seated at the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20–22; Eph. 6:10–18; James 4:7; 1 John 4:4), a truth that would be especially important in Ephesus with all of its occult practices. Ephesians 7:2 answers the question of why God lavished such love upon his people: so that they will marvel for all of eternity over the incredible kindness and love of God. It will take all of eternity to fathom God’s love, and those who are saved will never plumb the depths of it.

8. Proverbs 21:21

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Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor. Read More

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This verse speaks of pursuing righteousness and kindness; and Proverbs 22:1 teaches that one should choose a good name (emblematic of being a righteous and kind person) over wealth. Thus, Proverbs 22:1 answers Proverbs 21:20–21; wisdom can enable a person to achieve prosperity, but one should always pursue a good name through righteousness and kindness over riches. Proverbs 22:21, which speaks of the importance of wisdom in a military action—besieging a city—is answered by Proverbs 21:30–31, which assert that no wisdom . . . can avail against the LORD (Prov. 21:30) and that however carefully one may plan a military action, victory is in the hands of the LORD (Prov. 21:31). The whole unit teaches that success comes by wisdom, but that no amount of intelligence can stand against the Lord’s sovereign will, and that in the end a good and kind heart is better than great wealth and power.

9. 1 Corinthians 13:4–6

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Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Read More

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Spiritual gifts without love are worthless, and love is supreme because it lasts forever. The terms believes and hopes are sandwiched between bears and endures and, like them, probably refer to relationships between people rather than to faith and hope in God. Love believes the best of others and hopes the best for them.

10. Matthew 7:12

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So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Read More

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Known as “the Golden Rule,” this verse summarizes the teaching of the Law and the Prophets. The way in which one wants to be treated should determine the way that one treats others. This should come naturally for believers who love God with all their heart and soul and mind, and who love their neighbor as themselves (Matt. 22:37–40).

All commentary sections are adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

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