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Kindness: A Fruit of the Spirit

By Robbie Pruitt | high school Bible teacher in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy" (Titus 3:4-5).

If you were around in the 1980s and early 1990s, you may remember these huge square reels of videotape that contained movies and a place called Blockbuster Video where you could rent these VHS tapes to play in your VCR. This was before the ease, immediacy and convenience of DVDs, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu. These tapes are archaic now; they had to be rewound after they were watched and before they were returned to the video store. If you were to rent one of these tapes, there likely would be a sticker on the top advising: "Be kind. Rewind."

Apparently people were so self-absorbed and self-centered even in the 80s and 90s that they could not be trusted with the common courtesy, decency and kindness to rewind their videotapes without admonishment. The humorous aspect of this whole thing is you actually felt good about yourself when you rewound these tapes. "Look at me; I am so kind! I rewound this tape." Humorous T-shirts were made with the proclamation: "Please be kind. Rewind." The profoundness of kindness was reduced to the simpleminded courtesy of rewinding a tape.

Kindness includes simple courtesy, but it is much more significant. The improve group Improve Everywhere understands this about kindness. Improve Everywhere does humorous, ridiculous and sometimes profound theatrical flash mobs designed to entertain and bring joy to the masses, as well as send meaningful messages. One of their purposeful improvisations, "Welcome Back," included the random act of kindness of greeting complete strangers at the airport.

The group rallied at the JFK Airport and found taxi drivers who had signs held up for their customers, and they made their own signs welcoming the person home and joined the driver for a greeting their customer would not soon forget. When the person arrived, a huge crowd holding banners and yelling, "Welcome back!" would welcome them home. They would give the unsuspecting recipient of this kindness flowers, chocolates and balloons making him or her feel welcomed, loved and a little like a rock star. At first, the recipients would be confused, not too sure of what to do with the extravagance, but then they would be grateful and appreciative of the kindness and grace they had experienced from their new friends.

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