But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.
(Galatians 5:22-23, CEB)
 “It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul would list kindness as a fruit of the Spirit way back in the First Century AD.” Rev. Steve Negley muses in his writings.  He goes on to say; ”In the fruit basket of active spiritual living, kindness seems right at home alongside love, joy, peace and the like.”
Do we find kindness to be at a premium in our culture today?  Have the fruits of our interactions placed kindness on a higher pedestal?
In some ways, I think the answer to these two questions is “yes!” I think of the movement of random acts of kindness—selfless acts performed by a person or people wishing just to put something good out in the world.  The phrase “Random acts of Kindness” might have first been coined by Anne Herbert, a writer, and editor of  CoEvolution Quarterly, a precursor to the Whole Earth Review.  She wrote “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat at a Sausalito restaurant in the early 1980’s, and a movement was born. Maybe yet again another time this phrase was revived was by Bakersfield College professor Chuck Wall of Bakersfield, California who told his classes to participate in “Random Kindness.” Both thought the world could change through small measured acts of beautiful kindness.
I don’t know if you have paid attention to advertisements over the last few years, starting with a Chinese company Ad which circled the internet which featured a string of random acts of kindness following six lives throughout one day.  It showed by little actions that everyone’s life was bettered. Major companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Hyundai, and many more have picked up on the idea of kindness as a tool for selling goods or bringing focus to their aspirations for more profound humanitarian efforts
Even further we see signs that reduce the saying even further to “Be Kind.” The original construction implies a level of anonymity; that seems to have been lost too. There are plenty of groups around the world, who are sharing acts of randomized kindness. In the phrase, there is hope for acts of humility that better another person’s life.  As the domino effect takes to hold the idea is that kindness—even when randomized and unclaimed—can lift the spirits of a whole society.  Kindness in this way recognizes that we in some way are all connected.
I don’t know if we need to credit Anne Herbert, Chuck Wall, the recent string of commercials, advertisements, social media posts, or signs that direct us to kindness.  I think that there is something deep in our hearts that desire a world that is more kind—it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us.
Though over the last few years there was a focus on being kind, I think in many ways we have also moved away from this practice.  We are quick to retreat from a communal experience of the world to a more tribal understanding.  Our tribe becomes those who believe, think, and live like us.  Our tribe keeps us safe in our bubble of security. You see this in both the social sphere when people are quick to respond with their understanding of the world but slow to listen to the experiences of others. We see this on social media with snide comments, fights, disagreements.  Things that are easy to post that seem so important at the time—which can also be so hurtful—but later we forget that it was even important enough to type a response.  Is there kindness on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, etc.? Do we have the same expectation of random kindness as we hope to achieve in our real daily lives?
I believe whole-heartedly that kindness can change the world!
When we are following God’s Spirit we move deeper into the shared space–a communal space–allowing the Spirit’s fruit to ripen in our lives. This Spirit is one of action beckoning us to act kindly toward others. A child shows kindness as they stop to pat a puppy on the head. A homeowner shows kindness when they bring a cup of cold water out to share with the person who is mowing their yard. Kindness is known to both the sender and recipient when a smile is broadcast from one person to another in a crowded room or hallway. People who are filled with the Spirit seem to ooze kindness. Is kindness overflowing in your life today?
–    Pastor Jon
Gracious God, you have showered kindness upon me, as you have made, saved, and claimed me as your child. Help me to show kindness to every person I encounter today, so that they may rejoice in the fruit of your Spirit. Amen