I was listening to a podcast on the way to work. Susie Larson was interviewing Ann Voskamp HERE. Ann was talking about the kindness of God and at one point said,
A person can be good without being kind.
My mind has been wrapped up on this concept ever since. I instantly thought of the fruit of the Spirit with distinctions between the two: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Greek word for goodness is: agathōsýnē, “inherently good,” – properly, intrinsic goodness; as relating to believers, the goodness that comes from God and showing itself in spiritual, moral excellence.
But take a look at this! Agathōsynē occurs four times in the NT, and is apparently strictly a biblical term because it does not seem to appear at all in secular Greek/the papyri.
Only followers of Christ can be good like God is good. His goodness can’t be copied or mimicked, only reflected. And His goodness is also kind.
The Greek word for kindness is: xrēstótēs (“useful kindness”) refers to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing (fashion).
We all know the saying, “Timing is everything.”
This seems to be wrapped up in what it means to be kind. A mother needs to address a necessary issue with her teenage son, but to do so in the following ways would be unkind:
- As he is leaving for school in the morning.
- In a text while he is at school.
- In front of a friend he brings home.
- Right before bed when he is typically exhausted.
- Before her own heart is in a good place so she does not speak from anger or fear.
Each of these examples can be unkind. Waiting for perfect timing is part of loving well. God has certainly taken his time unfurling His glorious story with history and is famous for waiting for the perfect time. I am reminded of the popular poster:
Joseph waited 13 years
Abraham waited 25 years
Moses waited 40 years
Jesus waited 30 years
If God is making you wait, you’re in good company.
I am wondering if in our rush, we become unkind, even if our intentions are good.
Kindness seems to be the timing of God’s good, knowing when to speak or when not to speak. Knowing when to wait some more. Kindness seems to be about hearing God’s “not yet.”
Some of us have aimed for goodness and left kindness behind. Writing this has made me realize I have done so a million times. This is what Ann was referencing, but my studying this week has reminded me that the goodness listed in the fruit of the Spirit cannot leave kindness behind. God’s goodness is always perfectly timed and delivered. If our “good” has poor timing and delivery, it is goodness in our own strength, not His.
God cannot be good without being kind.
I want God’s goodness inside me to take over so people leave my presence without any bruises on their heart from ill-timed words that land hard, unwanted, ineffectively and abruptly. I want to be approachable, to have people not hesitate to talk with me.
I want to live with arms stretched wide.
But, like you, the harsh and harried world pushes me to rush things in the name of “getting things done,” “taking care of matters,” and “getting things off our chest.” How can we remain kind in such an environment? How can we be both soft and strong at the same time? God tells us how. After putting on all the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6:10-18, God commands us four times to stand. Not run, push, punch or kick, but to stand.
I want to stand firm.
On that same drive to work, I pictured myself standing firmly with arms stretched wide in kindness.
I realized that would make me look like the cross.
As December heads toward Christmas day and the birth of our Savior, let’s be the cross of Christ to all we encounter. Let’s stand firm wearing our spiritual armor and stretch our arms wide in kindness.
Picture Explanation: Once a month I attend an antique market. This month was delightfully all things Christmas season. I loved it.
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Yay! I’ve been looking so forward to reading this blog. I have not stopped thinking about this since our last conversation. Thank you for making the practical distinction between being kind and good.
I, too, want to be aware of my words and how they land, as well as having outstretched arms of kindness towards people. My mom was a beautiful example of this. Thank you, Laurie.
Our conversation was part of the development of this post. Thanks for being a sounding board and great friend.
Beautifully said my dear friend.
Thank you. Praying for you still.
“let’s be the cross of Christ to all we encounter… stand firm in spiritual armor; arms stretched wide in kindness.” I’m a visual person. Here’s my attempt:
K I N D N E S S
Looks good to me! Thank you!
(It took out all of my spaces!)
My imagination filled them in.
Great post, Laurie. We never regret kindness!
Yes, either extending it or receiving it!
Beautifully written my friend! I really love this !
Hello friend! Great to hear from you!