The second of the three fruits most directly associated with personal, human relationships is kindness. The translators of the King James Version render this Greek word as "gentleness." Even though gentleness is an aspect of being kind, this choice does not adequately describe the qualities the original word implies.
When Paul illustrated how love acts, patience leaped into his mind first: "Love suffers long" (I Corinthians 13:4). Immediately following, he writes, "and is kind," giving the impression that love and kindness belong together to such an extent that we can conclude that without kindness no act is truly done in love!
Patience is love forbearing. Patience suggests self-restraint under the pressure of provocation, especially undeserved provocation. Kindness, though, implies a more active expression of love toward God and fellow man. Both patience and kindness are bound in the one quality—love. Those who provoke us may never notice patient love, but patient love may reveal itself in acts of kindness so that even our provokers are positively impressed. Kindness is such a rare quality these days that when someone is kind, it has a good chance of making the news!
The love Paul expounds in I Corinthians 13 is the love of God, which found its perfectly balanced expression in Jesus Christ. His love was not only contemplative but also outgoing. Because of His love, He went about doing acts of kindness, healing, and casting out demons (Acts 10:38). The truth He preached also expressed His love. His love was not merely congeniality; it was patient, enduring, and ethical.
In most cases, kindness is not beyond any of us because it usually costs no money. It may take the sacrifice of time and energy. It may require the discipline to be thoughtful of others' needs and to make the effort to act. How much is required to cultivate smiling rather than frowning? to pay a visit? to say a word of encouragement or comfort? to show friendliness by warmly and sincerely shaking hands?
The consequences of kindness are incalculable, for such a spirit can ripple out to touch the lives of those far removed from the original act. Kindness sows the seeds that can only bear good fruit.