This is an ongoing “Fruit of the Spirit” series featuring my past perspectives from December 2019 along with my present-day reflections in 2020. Check out my series intro, my first post about love, my second about joy, my third about peace, my fourth about patience, and my next post about kindness below.

Dean from December 2019

I’d like to think I’m a kind person. I hold doors open for people, offer compliments, encourage others, share, give, love, and more.

Honestly, kindness seems like an easy one for me.

But that assumes kindness is only an external action. If there’s one thing I can expect from this whole process with the fruit of the Spirit, it’s that none of these fruits come with solely external actions; there’s always an internal reflection.

Fruit on a tree is nourished by the roots. An internal factor affects the fruit. Kindness will be no different.

So, what is the internal aspect of kindness?

At this point, I’m honestly stumped. Before this moment, I don’t think I can say I’d considered the internal aspect of kindness.

Dear reader, you are literally watching this unfold as I write.

If kindness is seen through an action, then perhaps it is nourished by the motivation. Why show kindness? Is it for some benefit to one’s self? Then isn’t the act of kindness a selfish act?

If kindness must be completely altruistic, can anyone truly be kind? People are pretty selfish. And lots of people ultimately do kind things for some sort of selfish reason, it seems.

The “do good, feel good” vein of psychology actually encourages doing kind things as a form of self-help. Thus, someone isn’t doing something entirely for someone else – a person is ultimately serving himself as he serves another.

Can true kindness exist this side of heaven?

And what does my sexuality have to do with it? Can my sexuality and gender even have an impact on kindness? Or will this be the one fruit that lies completely outside the relevance of my queer identity?

I wonder what kindness in 2020 will look like . . .

Dean from August 2020

I started this month still unsure of kindness. What on earth would this mean?

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the month saw me start something brand new: trauma-focused therapy.

I’ve been through a lot of crap. Older posts have recounted what my brothers, dad, and prior churches have done to me. Being a father has introduced new traumas, such as seeing my daughter endure a severe accident.

Being a husband hasn’t always been easy, too.

So, trauma therapy? Probably a good idea.

My second session confirmed things as my therapist and I got right into the thick of two extremely significant events from my childhood.

Dissecting these events together, we got myself through so many self-esteem issues that I actually felt physically lighter. My back didn’t naturally slump over, my steps felt softer, and my entire approach to myself changed.

It’s been in the wake of this trauma therapy session that a new idea for kindness as a fruit of the Spirit has taken hold.

You see, last year I wondered if true kindness could even exist since it seems to require a completely altruistic motivation. But I think I was mistaken.

What if kindness as a fruit of the Spirit simply meant your unconscious approach to others — and even to yourself — was to help instead of judge?

What if kindness manifested itself in the simple idea that when you see someone in need or hurting or broken, you desire to care for them before you desire to know how it happened?

Considering my sexuality, what if kindness led me to extend grace to myself as I honor God in all I do rather than ask why I still battle lust?

I still believe kindness is most evident through actions — but that doesn’t mean it starts there. If kindness starts internally, then it must mean that, before I do anything, my heart is already positioned toward kindness.

And because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in me, this is actually possible unconsciously.

This would definitely make the second greatest commandment a little easier to uphold.

Do you struggle to offer kindness either to others or yourself? How does your sexuality intersect this particular fruit of the Spirit?

About the Author

  • I don’t think that kindness is primarily selfish. That may be an evolutionary view. But kindness can also be based on principle. When it is based on principle you may do something kind even though it does you harm. Say you keep your word even though a person has treated you poorly. You don’t return evil for evil. That is not selfish. You make a vow. This vow was a bad idea. Things did not turn out the way you want. BUT you kept your word rather than bail out. That is a act of kindness especially if there are no other ramifications for breaking your word.
    Showing compassion is a act of kindness. It need not be selfish. Compassion seems to spring from empathy. When you see someone crying and you go to comfort them, you are not doing it because you are thinking, I may need him some day. Or I may need this guy or his friends to comfort me. Compassion is a geniune concern for others. It may spring from our life experience, but that doesn’t make us selfish.
    I think these are two exmaples where kindness is not selfish. In the first you may not even get any emotional kickback. The emotion may be pain if it is based on principle.
    Now this raises another question: ARe we KIND because we wnat to feel better or does FEELING BETTER RESULT from being kind? I think most of us don’t think: “I WANT TO FEEL BETTER LET ME GO BE KIND!” Most of us would naturally think that this is COUNTER INTUITIVE. It doesnt’ match with our natural instincts. In fact, most us who suffer from depression, loneliness, etc have to be reminded that doing acts of kindness is in our best interest. But it is not intutively so.
    Where does kindness spring? I think it springs from genuine love and compassion from people. Compassion springs from an empathetic heart. Also when you value and dignify people as made in God’s image, you can be kind based on principle when when you have no positive feelings associated with it.
    THere is a cross-section between my sexuality and kindness in so much as i can be kind, compassionate, empathetic, towards those who may have similar hurts that I have. I can’t think there is a particular reason to be kind to a person wiht SSA aside from empathy.
    I’m open to critique if anyone thinks there is something amiss.

  • I absolutely love this post, Dean. Especially given our current circumstances of division and pandemic, I believe that beyond the political and theological tensions, kindness should be a driving force of our approach as Christians. “To help instead of judge…make the second greatest commandment a little easier to uphold” echoes all of my thoughts with everything going on. Say it louder, brother!

  • As a good ole Four, my “default” state is looking inward; as a self-preservation Four, additionally, this focus feels intensified. I definitely struggle to offer others kindness on a regular basis. Of course, it does feel good to be kind, but I often feel like a well running dry, only to turn inward once more. How I desperately need more of the Spirit to constantly fill me up. Depending on the season, I feel unworthy or incapable of offering whatever the other person needs. And certainly when I’m at my unhealthiest, I struggle to offer myself this kindness, too. When I’m struggling sexually, I feel like I’m still facedown at the base of the mountain when I should be scaling 5-10,000 feet up by now.
    Looking back on the last 33 years though, I know I’m further along than I give myself credit for. But there’s always room for more. More Spirit, more refilling, more overflow, more kindness, more fruit. Loving this series, Dean, as you learn more about all these fruit and yourself, and teach us along the way.

  • Sexuality does play a role in my being kind. I come across shame-based people who think living in pain is normal & abuse is something you live with because you’re inherently bad. I don’t want to add to their burdens. Kindness goes beyond holding the door for them & helping them clear the table. Maybe kindness calls me to walk with them and share those burdens even if I don’t understand them and know I can’t fix them. It also calls me to speak out against the abuse instead of going along with it.

  • I think generosity lies at the heart of kindness. Also one of my favorite of God’s traits to meditate on is his kindness. Dwelling on how kind he’s been to me and how kind I can expect him to continue being to me helps me find hope and peace.

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