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Lesson 6: The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness *

Introduction: Galatians 5:22 tells us that another fruit of the Spirit is kindness. How much do you appreciate it when people are kind to you? In the rough and tumble of life, I notice and appreciate kind people. If you continue reading beyond the list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians, you come to Galatians 6:7. That verse tells us that we reap what we sow. By being kind to others, we cultivate kindness towards us. The question is, how do we become kind? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more about God's gift of kindness!

  1. Deserved Kindness

    1. Read 2 Samuel 9:1. What was David's motivation to show kindness? (Read 1 Samuel 20:12-15. Jonathan protects David from Jonathan's father, the King. Jonathan realizes that David will eventually become the King (rather than Jonathan) and so he asks David to show kindness to his family. David is remembering their agreement.)

      1. Read 1 Samuel 20:16-17. What was at the bottom of this concern for David? (It says that Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. This is the attitude that Jesus requires of us. Matthew 22:39.)

    2. Read 2 Samuel 9:2-3. What kind of power and influence did this son of Jonathan possess? (None. He did not have physical power or political influence. He seems to have been forgotten.)

    3. David sent for this son, whose name is Mephibosheth. Read 2 Samuel 9:6-8. Was Mephibosheth afraid of David? If so, why? (His grandfather was King Saul. David might have thought it important to kill all of Saul's descendants so that they would not be able to claim the throne.)

      1. What is your answer to Mephibosheth's question about noticing a dead dog? (It was because of the love of Jonathan. Jonathan, by the way, had been killed in battle a long time before this.)

    4. David shows kindness to a dead man's son. David has nothing further to gain by this kindness, and, it turns out, a lot to lose (see 2 Samuel 16:3-4). What lessons can we learn about kindness from this story? (It started with Jonathan showing unselfish love towards David. Our first step in showing and receiving kindness is to demonstrate unselfish love towards others.)

  2. Undeserved Kindness

    1. Read Matthew 5:43-48. How does the story of David and Mephibosheth fit into this teaching of Jesus? (It does not fit very well. David was not expecting anything from Mephibosheth, but David's kindness reflected the kindness of Jonathan.)

      1. What is Jesus teaching us about love (and kindness) in this text? (David was doing what we might expect. Jesus is teaching us to do more than is expected. Be kind to those who are not kind to you.)

      2. Does this teaching apply to your marriage? (If someone I love insults me, my natural inclination is to withdraw. I guess "sulk" is the best description. Jesus says do not withdraw, "greet" those who are harming you.)

        1. Is this easy? (Notice that Jesus says the goal is perfection: "be perfect ... as your heavenly Father is perfect." Perfect is far from easy.)

    2. What have we learned so far about kindness? (That we need to show it towards everyone. Showing kindness should result in returned kindness to us and our family.)

  3. Humility and Kindness

    1. Can you remember a time when you deliberately withheld kindness from someone else?

      1. If so, take a moment and try to figure out why?

    2. Read Matthew 11:28-30. We studied this text last week, but I want to come back to it. Do you think being gentle is something like being kind?

      1. Do you think humility is related to being kind?

      2. If not, go back to the time when you deliberately withheld kindness from someone. Was it because you were angry or unhappy with that person? Was it because you thought helping that person was "beneath" you?

      3. If your answer to either of these questions is, "yes," would humility (on your part) have solved the problem? (Yes!)

        1. For example, how many times are you angry or unhappy because someone has humiliated you?

        2. If you were more humble, would you still think you were "above" someone else?

    3. You may be coming to the conclusion that humility is one of the keys to being kind. Since Jesus tells us to learn to be "gentle and humble in heart" ( Matthew 11:29), how would you learn to be humble? It is, after all, a learned trait according to Jesus! (One way to become humble is to be humiliated.)

      1. Let's review our discussion so far. David showed kindness to Jonathan's son because Jonathan first showed kindness to David. But, Jesus teaches us to show kindness to everyone - including those who insult us ( Matthew 5:43-46).

        1. What is the benefit of being insulted? (Generally, when I think about the times I felt truly insulted, it was because I was humiliated. Being humiliated teaches me to be humble.)

        2. Can you see now why Jesus told us to learn to be gentle and humble? (Learning to be humble is the path to learning to be kind!)

  4. Gentle Tongues

    1. Read Proverbs 15:1 and Proverbs 25:15. Last week we studied patience, now we study being kind. Can you break bones with your tongue?

      1. What would be a "gentle tongue?" (One that speaks in a kind way.)

      2. In your experience, does a gentle answer keep the other person from being angry?

    2. In Matthew 12 we find that the religious leaders accused Jesus of using the power of Satan to do His miracles. Read Matthew 12:34 and Matthew 23: 33. Has Jesus forgotten the gentle answer proverb? Is this what Jesus had in mind when He said to "greet" our enemies: "Hello, viper! Burn in hell."

      1. These lessons I write each week generate a number of e-mails. Some want to know why their e-mailed lesson did not arrive. (Answer, sign up again.) Some write to thank me for the lesson. Some have questions. And, some send verbal bombs. Last week a fellow read one of my lessons about the principles of understanding Bible prophecy, and he wrote to tell me that I was lying. I wrote back that he needed to study his Bible more and become more mature. He responded that I was a dunce. Clearly, I was making progress. Is "Hello viper" ever the right response for us?

      2. How does the idea of being humble fit into the "Hello viper" response?

    3. How many times have you used sharp words, or a witty, harsh response, to show that you are smarter than your opponent?

      1. How does that fit into humility? ("I'm helping the other person to learn humility" is not an acceptable answer!)

    4. When Jesus tells us to "learn from Me" ( Matthew 11:29) does that mean we can do exactly as He did? (What concerns me is that Jesus knew the hearts of the vipers, and I do not. While I am still struggling with this issue, it seems to me that it is pride which motivates me to make "viper" comments more than anything else. Why not examine your motives for "viper" comments.)

    5. Friend, being kind is something that we can learn through the power of the Holy Spirit. The path of learning kindness involves love and humility. Will you, right now, invite the Holy Spirit to develop love, humility and kindness in your heart?

  5. Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Goodness.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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