The Fruits: Love, Kindness, Goodness

This post begins a short blog series on the Fruits of the Spirit. I will be describing some of these so-called fruits together in groups and some by themselves for the purpose of describing the kind of people Christians are called to become.

Love. Kindness. Goodness. These three terms all represent attributes associated with a Christian’s interaction with others. Scripture is clear many times that these traits—chiefly love—should define us in the world. John describes how love is our marker: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Scripture commands us to have lives in services to others: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor” (Prov. 14:21). “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great” (Lk. 6:35). Just to list a few commands to act with love, kindness and goodness.

But to quote the classic ear-worm: “What is Love?” What is at the center of our Christian response to others? It seems the center of love is emptying one’s self. It’s completely counter-intuitive to our individualism, but we are often called to deny our own pleasure, rights, and privileges for the sake of others. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 through 7 can be boiled down to just this. The Beatitudes subvert expectation and praise the selfless. Jesus says to turn the other cheek—to not repay evil with evil. We are supposed to give to the needy with no expectation of getting anything in return.

These are hard commands to follow, but we do these things because that’s who we are. Selflessness is not selflessness if we only love to get “points for Heaven.” We aren’t actually kind if we are only kind to get praise. And we aren’t even truly good if we act good just to impress other people into coming to the faith. As Christians, we act lovingly because of our connection with God. 1 John 4:8 reminds, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” And a few verses later: “We love because he first loved us” (4:19). Love flows from us because we have been transformed by God, through Jesus. Jesus is the perfect example of selfless kindness—that’s what happen on the cross. Jesus put against his own fears, desires, convenience because God so loved the world (John 3:16).

Discussion Questions

Feel free to comment your answers below, on social media, or just discuss among your family.

  • Why is it hard to love others above ourselves?
  • How would the world change if Christians lovingly looked after the interests of others?
  • What pleasures, rights or privileges do you struggle to give up the most?
  • Who (or what type of person) in your life is the most difficult to love above yourself?
  • What actions can you take to be more selfless in your everyday life?

Prayer Prompt

Thank God for showing unfathomable love to us. Confess to God any shortcomings in how you love others. Ask that you reflect God’s love in your own daily live and that you can follow the example of Jesus.