“What kind of person are you?”

After all, here are the words of Jesus:

Every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit, nor a bad tree to produce good fruit. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:17-19)

So what kind of person are you this morning? That’s what Jesus is talking about, isn’t he? Two different kinds of trees; two different kinds of people. Two different kinds of fruit; two different kinds of behavior.

A tree’s fruit simply reveals the true nature of the tree – what kind of tree it is. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Similarly, a person’s behavior simply reveals the true nature of that person. And that bit about being cut down and thrown into the fire? Not exactly sure about the details there, but it is a safe bet that it is something that we would want to avoid.

But how do we know that the fruit is meant to represent our behavior? What else does the Bible say about “good fruit”?

But the fruit of the Spirit,” we read, “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

The fruit of the Spirit is simply a description of how we need to interact with each other, and kindness is a good example of that. But the English word kindness has an interesting background.

What’s obvious is that kindness (n. – that is, benevolent behavior) is the quality of being kind (adj. – that is, benevolent). But what isn’t obvious is that being kind (adj. - benevolent) comes from exactly the same source as the words “kindred (n. – relatives)” and “kin (n. – family)” and… “kind (n. – of the same nature)”. You see, to be kind is to treat someone else as if they are of your kind. Whenever we have the opportunity to show kindness, we demonstrate by our actions what kind of person we are. Or to put it another way, kindness is simply treating someone like family. Seriously! The dictionary says this is where the word “kind” came from:

kind (adj.) "friendly, deliberately doing good to others," originally "with the feeling of relatives for each other".

Kindness is simply treating someone like family. After all, God’s kindness is an invitation to become part of his family – the family of Him who is the source of all Love, the family of Him who is the source of all Wisdom, the family of Him who is the source of all Joy, the family of Him who is the source of all beauty.

What does the Bible say?

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4,5)

That’s right: our salvation depends entirely on the kindness and love of God. God’s kindness to us is demonstrated in the fact that the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, became our kind in order that we could become his kind. That’s what the Bible means when it says

God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Isn’t that amazing? And how can we respond? How should we respond? The only appropriate response is, “WOW! How can I possibly deserve this?” And the answer is, of course, that we can’t. We simply cannot do anything to deserve this! In fact, the Bible says that God shows us this kindness when we were still sinners - enemies of God in our hearts.

So God is the kind of person who exercises exceptional kindness -- even to those who don’t deserve it at all. Have you experienced the kindness of God – who wants to treat you like part of His family? Have you felt that incredible “Wow! How could I deserve this?” feeling? If you have, then you, too, will want to show that same kind of kindness to others, too. Have you become part of God’s family? If you have, this kindness is that good fruit that will result. You see, just like fruit demonstrates what kind of tree bears it, your kindnesses demonstrate the kind of person that you are.

So what defines the kind of person you are? Are you defined by your hobbies, by your race, by your sex, by your bank account, by your friends, by your education, by your heritage, by your language, or even by your family? The more those things define the kind of person we are, then the more our kindnesses will be limited by them. Our kindnesses will be limited by our understanding, and will be according to our own rules; they will be within our own space, within our own comfort zone. But if we find our identity in God, and in the kindness that He demonstrates to us through the work of Jesus… then and only then will we be capable of a kindness that goes beyond our understanding. And this is the kindness that is the fruit of the Spirit; this is the good fruit that God is looking for in our lives.

Do you love those who love you? asks Jesus , “Well, what credit do you think you deserve for doing that? Anyone does that. And if you good to those who are good to you? Do you expect a reward? Anyone does that. ” (Matthew 5:46,47)

Instead, Jesus is challenging us to take kindness to the next level. Are you up to this challenge? If not, then we simply aren’t the kind of trees bearing good fruit. So we’re really in need of a new nature – we need to be miraculously changed from the kind of tree that bears bad fruit to the kind of tree that bears good fruit.  The good news, of course, is that it is exactly such a new creation is available to all of us in Christ! That’s what the Bible says:

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17)
just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

In order to bear good fruit, we need a fundamental change of nature, and thank God: that is exactly what He is offering you this morning. Are you willing to become the kind of person God intended you to be? Are you willing to accept that invitation to become part of His family? If you are, then open your heart to Him. He will then reveal himself to you, and you will begin an amazing journey that will change the way that you look at the world; it will change the way you look at people, and it will change the kind of kindness that you exercise in keeping with the amazing kindness that you have received from Him.

So... What kind of person are you today?