THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
- The Fifth Grape of The Cluster
Is It the Cream or the Milk of Human Relationships?
The question that has been posed is an interesting one, because when I reflect on the properties of cream or milk I think of a liquid that is smooth and rich. Generally any recipe made with whole milk and especially cream makes the food very delicious. There is also the old medicinal remedy that a glass of warm milk calms the stomach.
There is a virtue or behavioral characteristic that could be called the “milk of human relationships.” The fifth grape in the cluster group and fruit of God's Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is called kindness. W. Phillip Keller says this in his book entitled A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit. “This healing, compassionate merciful virtue that ebbs and flows amongst us is called the ‘milk of human kindness.’”
There are really two sources, reasons and motivations for kindness. God is one source or reason and motivation of kindness. The other reason or motivation for kindness is the tit-for-tat game we play with others. We show kindness in return for kindness given. We give only to get. It is my conviction that if our kindness is not founded in the Lord, we will end up discouraged, angry and cynical.
Kindness can be characterized or described in many different ways. W. Phillip Keller defines kindness as love showing mercy. When the love of God and for Him is the source, reason and motivation of kindness, His love is the root and food for showing compassion, consideration, concern and care for others.
Kindness is much entwined with respect, honesty and treating others with integrity and dignity. Kindness is the willingness to pay the price, no matter what the inconvenience or sacrifice. It costs something and it takes time.
In John 3:16, we read that God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Then in Philippians 2, we read that Jesus gave His life willingly and voluntarily on the cross to pay the price or suffer the consequences for your sins and mine, your selfishness and mine. It is the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ that is the well spring of kindness. It is the love of God at work in us through the Lordship and reign of Jesus Christ and the empowerment of His Spirit that enables us to: “love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us, that we may be children of our Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” Matthew 5:45-46.
“Bless those who persecute us; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on us, live peaceably with all. Therefore “If our enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;” Romans 12:14-20
Let me quote Philip Keller once again, who so simply, but eloquently puts the truth of kindness in perspective in light of the previous scriptures.
“Kindness is not the tolerance of wrongs and evil in others. Nor is it an insipid, soft, sentimental indulgence. It can be illustrated several ways. It is not kindness for a parent to allow a child to deliberately do something wrong. It costs something to correct the misbehavior, both for parent and child. To overlook the wrong, to brush it aside, to sweep it under the rug is not kindness. It is a distinct disservice.”
“It costs something to care. There is suffering involved. It is the kind physician who lances the boil, drains off the poison, cleanses the wound, and so restores the patient. It is the charlatan who simply spreads salve over the sore while the ulcerated skin does its deadly work beneath the surface.”
If the fruit of the Spirit called kindness is going to flourish in the garden of your life and mine; then we need to respond to the caring, compassion truth of God's love and grace in Jesus Christ by the work and power of the Holy Spirit flowing in us and through us.
Pastor Perry DeGroot