Kindness is Good Company

In the well known list of the fruit of the Spirit (in Galatians 5:22-23), sandwiched between those pleasant fruits of peace and kindness, is the overlooked fruit called longsuffering. What is this fruit? What does longsuffering mean exactly? Surely it must have a nicer definition in Greek.

Longsuffering means suffering for a long time. This does not sound very appealing. But  many things in this life (provocations and afflictions) require long-term suffering,  discipline, and patience. And what better encouragement can there be for us than to know that God has a special fruit that is dispensed by His Holy Spirit that enables us feeble creatures to hang in there for the long haul.

Many people have griefs and injuries, chronic pain and ailments that require longsuffering. Old age suffers long. But notice in both these passages, longsuffering is surrounded with kindness: “Love suffers long and is kind” (I Cor. 13:4) and from Galatians, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness…”

When we are called to an extended time of suffering, patience works itself out in kindness. And kindness always looks out for others. So when we are suffering for a long time, we do well to turn our eyes to the needs of others. Longsuffering has a good companion in kindness. Kindness points us away from our own troubles and gets us to minister to others. And kindness always has a gang of friends along: joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, and the rest of them. And that is good company.

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10 thoughts on “Kindness is Good Company

  1. Thank you for this, Mrs. Wilson. I am glad you have elaborated on long-suffering, since it it often overlooked as a Fruit of the Spirit. Bless you!

  2. What a sweet, sweet post… and I have also found that the longer I live, the longer I “suffer,” the more deeply I appreciate the simplest of kindnesses. And consequently, the more ready I am to deliver such things as I am able… how easy to give a smile, a hug, a warm word or a batch of muffins and how profoundly felt these gestures often are.

    I often like to think of how very kind our Lord Jesus must have been to those that surrounded Him.

  3. A “grandma” was visiting our church on Sunday, one of those lovely women one immediately can speak with from the heart.

    She–one look and you could see that she was kind–told me that one of the things that helped during her husband’s cancer treatments was to right notes of encouragement to and pray for others.

    It helped, she said, because it got their eyes off of their own suffering and it provided them something they could do when most of their “doing” had been disabled.

  4. This is really encouraging. I think in today’s evangelical culture suffering is often downplayed as attacks of Satan or lack of faith. We’ve all seen the sort of prosperity gospel that tells you if you’re poor, depressed, or sick then you’re doing it wrong. There’s a pressure to stop hurting and be productive. And here you are explaining that the way to deal with suffering is not to stop suffering but to deal kindly with those around you. Thanks for the good word.

  5. Amen, Natalie. I know I’ve never been a good sufferer, but by all accounts the Lord has worked miracles in me these past many years. It feels so good to hear my husband praising me for responding patiently to suffering, quite unlike I used to.

    For some reason I always thought that I was a bad Christian if I struggled with suffering, and that others would accuse me of being selfish or lazy. But when Peter says that the afflictions of the righteous are many, I’ve really had to take that to heart. In fact, here I am laid up in bed for about the fourth week because of a series of afflictions the Lord has brought! I can’t deny I’ve had some Job moments. But the Lord is fighting the enemy for me, and He’s showing me how to pursue long-suffering with incredible kindness, and most of all gratitude.

  6. As Savannah came for a visit over the weekend and then left on Monday, I have had to continually remind myself of the strength I have in Christ to bear all things. I have had to remind myself that this is a gift from the Lord, that this is mercy, that this is God’s kindness on our family. The reason I have to remind myself is because this hard providence is not what I would naturally call merciful and kind. Only through God’s Spirit enabling and working righteousness in us as a family can we accept this as “good” from the hands of the Lord.

    I want to thank you, Nancy, for reminding me that longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit. This is so encouraging. It really does give my heart peace knowing that my heavenly Father loves me enough to build that fruit in me by sending me suffering. Whether it’s my Fibromyalgia, or other hard providences the Lord has given us in the past year… it feels SO good to not fight those things, but cheerfully accept them as gifts.

    Natalie, the only thing I would say about the pressure to stop hurting is that sometimes as Christians we don’t always know how to minister to each other during suffering. Sometimes friends don’t know what to say, or what to do and therefore they end up saying things that come off as “buck up” or “stiff upper lip” and “stop wallowing and go serve” or any number of statements that they think will help the sufferer to come out of the suffering. We live in the richest country, with the most sophisticated technology and health provisions the world has ever seen. People in general today, including Christians do not have a robust understanding of suffering, period. I think the Church needs to go back to teaching these things rightly.

  7. I would have to Amen Luma, that we, the bride, do need more teaching on how to “count it all joy when we fall into various trials.” Certainly, that teaching needs to come from our Mother Church. Longsuffering and trials are difficult to grasp, but I think James 1 is a wonderfully eye opening understanding, on how we ought to view our many colored trials. First off, we are to “count it all joy”. Crazy? Yes! But true none the less. We can even test ourselves, to see if we are counting it all joy, by checking if we are growing in patience. Vs. 5 says we are told to ask for wisdom during these times, and then promises that God will give it. Vs. 6 says we are commanded not to doubt.
    Keep on reading this wonderful passage, and take special notice of vs. 13-15. Some truths about evil and trials are revealed that ought to help us do away with the notions which indicate that all evil is from Satan. Vs 13 reveals that no one is tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He temp anyone. “And what is evil?” we should be asking. And right there is vs. 14; James says it is our own desires that are evil. So when we do not desire God’s will, we are following our own lusts and it is those lusts that give birth to sin, and when full grown, death will come to us. I think this is why and when our trials get the best of us.
    God is so good. Not only does He tell us how to see our bumps and lumps, but He tells us how to deal with them, and even how to keep from sinning in them. God is good and trials are beautiful. They are what build us into beauty. Without them we would not be diamonds. The understanding of the amount of pressure it takes from the coal to actually cause a diamond to form is well worth noting. God doesn’t see just the now like we do, He sees the forever, and that is what He is preparing us for, forever.

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