After almost two weeks of living out of my backpack and sleeping on the floor of a church, I really needed to do laundry. It was our day off, so many of my teammates jumped at the chance to wash their clothes. To do so, we pooled our money to buy laundry soap, and filled buckets with the cold water from an outdoor tap. Now, I don’t remember what came up: an opportunity to go to the beach or the mall or the frozen yogurt shop, but all of a sudden I became conflicted. Should I stay (responsibly) to wash my dirty clothes, or should I join in on the fun? In just a few days, we would leave for Mexico, and I knew I’d want clean clothes, and I had no clue of the next occasion I’d have to do laundry. As I dejectedly measured out the detergent and glumly dumped my clothes into the bucket, my friend pulled the container away from me, and with a smile she pushed me away. “Go ahead,” she urged me. “I’ll do this for you.”
So, I got to join the group on some fun adventure while my outreach teammate, who I’d barely started to get to know, stayed behind, adding my burden to her own. Choosing to help me out, she sacrificed her own relaxing free day. And she chose a job that was no fun: washing my dirty, stinky clothes. A few hours later, I arrived back at the church to find my clothes washed and hung up neatly.
Throughout outreach, my friend continued to show kindness to members of our team and to the people we served, but the simple act of her washing my clothes meant the most to me. Her willingness to serve came directly from her love for God, and as silly as it sounds, I felt God’s love in the gift of clean clothes.
In several ways, my friend emulated God’s self-sacrificial kindness, choosing to give up her own chance to have fun, and adding the unnecessary extra work of hand-washing my clothes too. She didn’t need to go out of her way to help me; I hadn’t gotten to know her well, and she deserved better than spending her day off doing my laundry.
But, much like our gracious Saviour, my friend cared more for me than she did for herself.
God didn’t allow the distance between Himself and me to stop Him from coming to my rescue, nor did He pause in His relentless pursuit of me because I ignored Him. God’s kindness is evident in each of His actions, and His love motivates the kindness in our own lives. In Colossians 3:12, Paul even tells us to clothe ourselves in kindness. What does that mean? Well, I think that looks like people so committed to showing kindness that it covers all of their actions toward others. It’s hard to be kind, and for me at least, even wanting to be kind is hard. This just means kindness is a choice. We have unlimited access to God’s kindness, along with the other fruits of the Spirit, so our duty, our privilege, is to deliberately demonstrate it.
Somehow, miraculously, as we choose kindness, we begin growing more like Jesus. He gives us the strength and the motivation to put others first, which brings us into better, deeper, more fulfilling relationships with those around us. Romans 12:20 challenges us to practice kindness as we “Love one another with brotherly affection”, and to “Outdo one another in showing honour.”
Although kindness isn’t an easy choice, it’s possible through God, and it is so worth it.
The beauty of being kind is in its simplicity. God shows His kindness to us in a myriad of ways everyday, even as simply as in the love of family and friends. It’s been over a year since my friend generously washed my clothes for me, yet it’s a kindness that continues to touch my heart.
by Fiona Muha
YWAM Newcastle Staff
Fiona (USA) has been on staff at YWAM Newcastle since January of 2017, and is currently working in our Creative Communications Department. She values spending time with people and enjoys reading and editing other people’s work, as well as writing creatively.
This post is the fifth in a blog series on the fruits of the Spirit by YWAM Newcastle staff and alumni. In the series, each author shares how a specific fruit of the Spirit has impacted their understanding of God’s character. Through these blog posts, we hope to encourage you to look for examples of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your own life.