Acts of Kindness Aren’t Random

Off-Season Practice

Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another. (Zech. 7:9)

When I was in high school, I played tennis—though not very well. One of my challenges was getting enough practice in the offseason. I would sometimes drive over to the courts and hit against a practice wall, but balls ricocheting at close range don’t quite simulate a real match. To really practice tennis, you need another person.

Similarly, kindness is one fruit of the Spirit that we can’t practice in isolation. We might experience peace in our own hearts and minds or exercise self-control when we’re alone, but we demonstrate kindness in relationship. As Zechariah 7:9 illustrates, kindness isn’t something we show to ourselves; it’s something we show to one another.


Megan Hill, Melissa B. Kruger

This 40-day devotional unpacks each of the 9 fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5, bringing theologically rich reflection and practical application to women seeking a more fruitful life.

Being kind has become a popular virtue in our culture. As I write today on February 17, it just so happens to be National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Perhaps you’ve paid for the coffee of the person behind you in line or left a gift card at the gas pump as a way of participating in one of these kindness initiatives. Random acts of kindness can be fun, and there’s nothing wrong with this sort of generosity.

But in the Bible, kindness is not bestowed randomly—it’s intentional and specific. Think back to Paul’s and David’s examples from day 19 of believers being kind to one another. These weren’t strangers. They were members of the same congregation. And Jesus teaches in Luke 6:35: “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.”

We demonstrate kindness in our relationships with others—but we grow in kindness through our relationship with Christ.

Be Kind to Enemies

Jesus tells us to be kind to some very specific people: our enemies. Why? So that we will be like our Father in heaven who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Our culture’s response to enemies, the ungrateful, and the evil is to cancel them, to destroy their reputations online, to cut them off from relationship. Cultural kindness is either random or reserved for the worthy—people we agree with, people who affirm us, people we deem good.

But if we as believers in Christ are kind to our enemies, kind to the ungrateful, and kind to the evil, others will see a difference. Maybe it’s how we interact with the ungrateful family member who criticizes us at every turn. Maybe it’s how we respond to the dishonest boss who takes credit for our ideas. Maybe it’s how we serve the neighbor turned nemesis who lets her dog destroy our yard. When we show kindness in specific ways to people who are hard to love, we reflect the kindness of God. And his kindness has a wonderfully specific purpose—to lead sinners to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

If you’re like me, you might be wishing you could go back to thinking of kindness as paying for a stranger’s coffee. Biblical kindness sounds hard! That’s why we have to remember that kindness requires relationship. We demonstrate kindness in our relationships with others—but we grow in kindness through our relationship with Christ. We look to the Holy Spirit’s work in us to bear the fruit of kindness, and we pray that he would work in the hearts of our enemies, the ungrateful, and the evil to bring them to repentance.

This article is by Winfree Brisley and is adapted from Fruitful: Cultivating a Spiritual Harvest That Won't Leave You Empty edited by Megan Hill and Melissa B. Kruger.

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