In the list of the Fruit of the Spirit we see kindness is listed in the center: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
You see how the first four are basically states of being? They are similar to the leaves of a tree.
God is love, we are loved, we love others. Because of that, we experience joy, peace and patience. We then exhibit kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The first four well up inside us from God Himself through the Holy Spirit's indwelling. They are our sustenance, they gather oxygen to live, so to speak, and make visible God's blessings for our nurturing. The last five are expressed outwardly to our siblings in Christ first, and then to our neighbors. The last four are the roots of the tree establishing permanence and stability in the face of the storms of life/
Kindness is the first outward evidence of the Spirit, and especially of our Christianity. When we show kindness we are extending God's hand to others around us. Sadly, I do not see a whole lot of kindness in the body of Christ. Perhaps because it takes effort and energy, and it takes all the other parts of the gift of the Spirit in order to evidence kindness. Perhaps it is because those who exhibit no kindness, and are perpetually without kindness toward others do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the lack of kindness is because the person is just having a bad day, or is in a depressed state.
A person in deep depression has no thought of exhibiting kindness for that person is wrapped up in his own Hell. So it takes all of the fruit to shake out of the depression. The certainty of being loved, the joy of the heart, the peace that passes all understanding, and the patience to wait upon God gives that person the courage to reach out to fellow man. Certainly there are times we get depressed or lose our way temporarily. But the indwelling Holy Spirit does not allow us to stay there long because God is intensely interested in our well being because He loves us.
God works inside our hearts through the Spirit. God is love; John tells us so. If there is no love in the heart, then kindness is not evident, nor even a brief thought. For through love springs all the gift of the Spirit because God is love.
Without peace, kindness is not exhibited because turmoil and war in the mind and heart drown out all thoughts of others. This introspection, or rather inward thinking, builds a bridge to depression and despair.
Patience and long-suffering are the roots of kindness. A tree with shallow roots falls over in the first huff of wind. Kindness stems from patience because patience stalls the hasty reply, stops the anger before it forms and causes the advent of forgiveness before bitterness can germinate.
Therefore, in Paul's list of the fruit of the Spirit (please note it is all one fruit, not multiple fruits) Kindness is the turning point from the inward spring to the outward flow of the Spirit.
Considered thoughts from Gina Burgess at 4:06 PM
In other words, the appearance of godliness, but the heart intent is not there. They fasted, but they bickered and fought. They fasted but they acted mean. They went to church, but did not take God seriously or kept Him with them while going about their daily business.
Today some Christians do the same thing. Why do we act mean towards each other? Why do we hold grudges against each other? It takes a lot of love and mercy to be a true believer in Christ.
I believe what Isaiah is saying here correlates with Jesus’ cursing of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. Only Jesus says it much harsher drop down to verse 25.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. Blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.Matthew 23:25
Now compare Isaiah 58:13
If you turn your foot because of the Sabbath, from doing what you please on My holy days, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of Jehovah, honorable; and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words…
They are almost exactly the same.
Didn't they learn anything in those 700+ years since Isaiah lived?
Praise God that believers today have the Holy Spirit funneling as much of God's love and mercy into our hearts that we allow to settle there. It's a choice, yes, but it is a burden-relieving choice because we don't have to do it alone! God does it for us if we just let Him.
Considered thoughts from Gina Burgess at 11:46 AM
We just cannot grasp the concept of eternity... or infinity for that matter. Our finite minds just have no concept of it because we have a beginning and we know our physical bodies will have an end. After all, we all know someone who has died.
I cannot fathom the sheer giant-ness of God.
Psa 95:4 The deep places of the earth are in His hand; the summits of the mountains also are His.
I cannot fathom the never beginning of God.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;
I cannot fathom the never ending of God.
Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.
And yet, I have this understanding of the things that are eternal in my soul.
Ecc 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has set eternity in their heart, without which man cannot find out the work that God makes from the beginning even to the end.
Considered thoughts from Gina Burgess at 1:30 PM