By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

When the Apostle Paul gives us his list of the fruit of the Spirit, he is very intentional about using the singular word. Fruit. In both Greek and English, we are told that God wants us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, meaning that God desires for us to have ALL of these characteristics!  But have you ever really known someone who did?

Her name was Marilynn. But for 19 years, I was privileged to call her my mother-in-law. Marilynn was the only person I have ever known who embodied all of the FRUIT. Her specialty was kindness.

When anyone was hurt by someone and tempted to repay evil with evil, her advice was, “Just smother them with kindness and they’ll come around.” And it worked. Every time! I have found when I follow her advice, people have no choice but to return my kindness after a while. Of course, a lot of prayer and work of the Holy Spirit goes into bringing about reconciliation, but it all begins with the seed of kindness planted along with the sincere hope of a resolution.

Marilynn survived cancer three times only to be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It has been 16 years since her death, but I still feel her presence, especially every time I find it in my heart to repay hurt with kindness. My children still quote her tried-and-true response often, and we honor her memory when we are kind to others.  

Lord, help me see you in each person I meet and share kindness to honor the life of this ordinary saint.

Rev. Julie Schaaf

About the Contributor

The Reverend Julie Schaaf is the Interim Minister of Nazareth. She is the wife of Danny, mother of Katie and Carter, mother-in-law of Bryan and Catie, grandmother of Hayden and Douglas and grateful daughter-in-law of Marilynn.