Kindness and goodness. They bring very much the same thought to our minds, somebody who is willing to go out of their way for something. Kindness would be those who are willing to go out of their way for those who need help, even when they don't ask, and might even not appreciate, it, doing, as Luke 6:31 says "unto others as you would have them do unto you". Goodness would be going out of your way to do what is right, even when nobody sees it, just because you know that God wants you to do it.
I found it very interesting to realize, while I was studying today, that the word 'kindness" isn't in my concordance! "Goodness" is also little used. Part of the reason for this is because they are often used instead as "mercy" or "compassion" and "righteousness". But I think it is very fitting, as these two fruits are both very important, but are best shown by those who are humble and never think of what they can get, but what they can give. Following Christ and being a blessing to others when done with a right heart is never done for show. Of course, we shouldn't only be following the commands of our Lord so that others will look at us and say "Oh, they're so impressively godly!". That is pride, and that's not godly! Besides which, we have no goodness without Lord; Psalms 16:2 says, "I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” But some of the fruits of the spirit, such as love, or joy, should be openly shared, while kindness and righteousness are usually best carried out by doing the little things that nobody notices. Helping a little one clean up their mess without letting them know how undesirable it is for you, even when they were told not to make it in the first place, sharing the truths of the Lord with others, and taking a meal to someone are all acts of kindness. Loving those who might hurt us, setting aside time to spend with the Lord, and following God even when it is hard, without any pride in our hearts, are all what would be considered "goodness".
I think a wonderful way to illustrate these fruits is found in Luke 10:25-39, the parable of the good Samaritan...
"And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”"
After this man was beat and left for dead, two men walked by. One was a priest. While claiming to have religion, he had no goodness. The other was a Levite. While being one of the chosen men of Israel by God's kindness, he showed none. But the third man to make it down the road had both. This man needed help, and so he showed him kindness and took care of all his needs. Then he went over and beyond that, following the Lord to also take him somewhere where he could rest and fully heal, free of personal charge.
Christ was "wounded for our transgressions, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5), "so that in the coming ages God might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7). He showed kindness in saving us from a life in hell, but he also went above and beyond that to give us a place of rest in our father's house, free of personal charge. Not because we deserved it, but because, out of his mercy and love, his kindness and goodness, his compassion and grace, he wanted to extend to us riches of grace to us in measures we could never imagine or hope for.
I think this is a good verse to sum this up... "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9. A mind that is ready to embrace others suggestions as long as they don't compromise God's commands, a heart ready to do all you can for those who are hurting, sharing love for others even when they are unkind to you. May God grant that through him we would be able to do all of these things!
What are some acts of kindness and goodness in following the Lord that you could do this week?