Kindness: The Oft-Overlooked fruit of the Spirit

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I recently shared about the extraordinary kindness of a clerk at a local store.  She was exuberant.  She was friendly.  She was helpful.  She even gave me a high five after getting me a better discount due to some digital magic on her part.  It was refreshing to be treated with such grace and dignity.

Since that day I have chosen to return the favor by initiating kindness when I speak to any clerk.  Rather than wait for the person to say hi to me, I quickly say hello and ask them about their day.  When I leave I thank them for them service and wish them a good day.  I am amazed at their response.  It seems to me that this is atypical.  I recently called a customer service representative.  After asking me how my day was going I responded by asking her about her day.  There was a short silence then a shocked comment about how no one really asks about her day.

These responses led me to reflect…

  • When I see people in service roles, do I view them as persons or as objects to serve my needs?
  • Is my kindness reserved only for those people I know and like?
  • Is there the potential for a Christian witness in these short exchanges as I try to bless them with kindness? I should be different even in small ways, right?
  • How can I live out “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” even in these moments where I am purchasing a doughnut or cup of coffee?
  • What does it mean to be different than the world through small interactions with a stranger?

The adage states that our true character is how we act when we are alone.  I wonder if this can be extended to include those brief exchanges with strangers.  If we take a snapshot of these moments, what would it say of our character?

For me, it is convicting to think about.  How many times did I breeze through the line without even making a comment to the person ringing me up?  Or worse yet, how many moments did I have a cell phone in my hand while signing my signature to the credit card pad?  How often did I nonverbally communicate impatience because the line was taking too long?  Certainly, I can take a few moments to express human dignity and kindness.

Listed among the fruits of the spirit is kindness.  Oh, the oft-overlooked fruit.  It is more common to think about love, peace, and patience.  These are the big ones, the important ones.  But, kindness…  that is not one we really consider.  But, we should.  It is an expression of the spirit of God.  It is an expression of Christ.

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