Kind & Good

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

— Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:22, 23

There are two virtues listed in the Fruit of the Spirit that are so close to each other in meaning that they must be dealt with as one: “kindness” and “goodness.” In fact, they can both be translated “goodness,” so what is the difference between the two words?

Goodness

Let’s start with the second word first (agathosune, ἀγαθωσύνη). Goodness can be harsh. When my little granddaughter asked for “more cookies please.” Her mommy said “No!” Charlotte had to be harsh to be good. When Jesus made a whip and drove the money-changers out of the Temple (John chapter 2), he was good but he was also harsh. God’s goodness can be strict!

Kindness

“Kindness” on the other hand is an easy and mellow virtue (chrestotes, χρηστότης). Legend says during the “silent years” Jesus the Carpenter made custom yokes for oxen. Later Jesus said:

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus uses our word “kind” here when he literally says, “My yoke is kind.” William Barclay comments: “Jesus says: ‘My yoke fits well.’ What he means is: ‘The life I give you is not a burden to cause you pain; your task is made to measure to fit you.’ Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.”[1]

Jesus uses the same word to describe the good, old wine (Luke 5:39). “He says, “The old is good,” that is it is mellow. It isn’t bitter or harsh.

The Fruit that is Kind and Good

By combining these words as Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit, the apostle is telling us to be good, which sometimes means being stern, but always to be kind.

Let’s illustrate these words with an example. We want to be good parents and sometimes that means drawing the line, but we are always kind, tailoring our discipline to the unique personalities of our children. Remember: there is no “one size fits all” in any relationship! We must be kind and good.

[1] Barclay, W. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (Third Ed., pp. 18–20). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.

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