Question: Is kindness one of the fruits, or graces, of the spirit, and if so, how would we classify it?
Answer: The word kind as an adjective may be defined as sympathetic, affectionate, loving, generous, tender-hearted, forbearing, gentle, friendly, solicitous and helpful. Kindness is a very desirable and God-pleasing quality, although it is not generally classified as a separate grace. It is considered rather as a part of unselfish, or disinterested love, of brotherly love, of mercy, of goodness (magnanimity) and gentleness. If it were to be classified as a separate grace, it would not be among the primary or the secondary graces, but rather among the tertiary, or compound graces, that is, those which are made up of a number of other qualities.
God’s lovingkindness, His great and loving favor, which is far better than human life (Psalm 63: 3), is mentioned many times in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, the Greek word translated kindness (2 Corinthians 6: 6) (Ephesians 2: 7) (Colossians 3: 12) (Titus 3: 4) is chrestotes, which means usefulness, goodness, agreeableness, benignity. It is translated goodness in Romans 2: 4, good in Romans 3: 12 and gentleness in Galatians 5: 22. We read of brotherly kindness in 2 Peter 1: 7, however the Greek word philadelphia, which means brotherly love, indicates that that would be the proper translation.
1 Corinthians 13: 4 reads, “love . . . is kind” (American Standard Version, ASV). Regarding this verse, Bro. Russell wrote:
“Perfect love is kind in its methods. It not only seeks to do good to others, but seeks to do it in the kindest possible manner. And who has not discovered that the manner and tone have much to do with every affair of life. In proportion as perfect love is attained, the effort of the heart will be to have every word and act, like the thoughts which prompt them, full of kindness. It is well to remember the motto of the old Quaker – ‘I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it, nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’
“There are many who are impatient and unkind in their dealings with the members of their own family, but who to outsiders seem to be models of deportment. It is hard to see how they justify their course, especially when we recall that they have a particular responsibility toward their family for mental, as well as physical sustenance. It behooves each one who would have the approval of God to study his conduct, not only toward the world and the brethren, but also toward the members of his own family, that he may be sure that he is minding his own business in every sense of the word.
“Respecting those who are of the household of faith, the Apostle urges that if we find a brother overtaken in a fault, we should show our own spirituality in the manifestation of the spirit of meekness and kindness toward the one at fault [Galatians 6: 1, 2]. We should bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. We should cultivate the spirit of meekness by remembering that we ourselves might at sometimes be overtaken in a fault – in the future, if we had not in the past. We should learn to think humbly of ourselves. We are really nothing when compared with that which is perfect. Our standing with the Lord is not because of human perfection, but because of proper wills – good intentions – fully consecrated hearts.”