I was staying with friends, and the lady of the house said to me, “Hey Dan, we’re going to treat you like family. So make yourself useful.” Well, I took that as a serious suggestion to do something. So I helped set the table for dinner.
A loving, caring person is always concerned to be helpful, and that is a quality of life that God wants us to utilize as Christians. In Galatians 5:22 we are introduced to the fruit of the Spirit. This verse says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness…” Notice this fifth facet of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness – a word often misunderstood by those reading this passage of Scripture. Most people think of gentleness as a soft touch and a quiet demeanor. But that’s not what the word means here.
The word “gentleness” is a Greek word that basically means “to be useful.” It comes from a word that means “to be employed,” and from a root verb that means “to furnish what is needed.” Actually, when a person is helpful and doing things that are useful, they are being kind – and that’s how the New King James version and the NAS and NIV translate this word. “The fruit of the Spirit is kindness.”
We have probably all seen the sign which exhorts people to practice “random acts of kindness.” This sign points out the fact that people are hassled, and frustrated, and caught in the frenetic routines of life, and an act of kindness can really make their day. It is especially important that Christians heed this advice by being kind to someone, by doing something nice for another person, or encouraging them.
Why? Because that’s what God wants us to be like at all times. He wants us to be kind to our children, and kind to our spouses; he wants us to be kind to our friends, to the people that live around us, to our co-workers. He even wants us to be kind to people who don’t treat us well. And by all means, He wants us to practice random acts of kindness wherever we go, because “the fruit of the Spirit is…kindness.”
Now you know the real meaning of the word.
So don’t be a sour-faced, grumpy ol’ Scrooge. Be kind – make yourself useful!