Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…but let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another for each one shall bear his own load. As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:2–5, 10—NKJV)

For a good number of well-meaning people, the phrase “practice random acts of kindness” is a slogan of practical religion. In their mind, it is akin to Jesus’ golden rule put into today’s vernacular. Though the byword scrubs the “command of God” out of the golden rule, the unspoken “why” is supposed to prompt the idea that a good, religious person does good wherever an occasion may present itself. In other words, be ready to do general good because that is what a good person does.

To my way of thinking, “random acts of kindness” seems to remove all sense of priority, as well as relegate the majority of the kind acts to mundane and spiritually trivial needs. In so doing, the catchphrase relinquishes the high calling unique to the believer.

Christians are to be known as “good” people, though not for the sole reason that they go about caring for the needy. Such external religiousity is no different than what an unsaved pagan may do who, at his core, believes that his myopic god requires good deeds but cannot see man’s heart-need. The context of our verses points to a powerful internal, spiritual reality which far transcends the occasional good deed.

Galatians 5 concludes with the list of qualities that illustrate the fruit of the Spirit with which the believer blesses others everywhere he goes. The Holy Spirit invades the genuine believer’s life as a result of the redeeming work of God in his heart through faith in the shed blood of Christ. As an evidence that the believer is indwelt by the Spirit, his life blossoms forth with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In short, he spends the remainder of his saved life filling each day with Spirit-led decisions. There is nothing “random” about Spirit-directed self-control.

The arena of his kindness is instructive. It is the arena of sin, and brokenness over sin. Chapter 6 begins with the problem of how believers behave toward one of their own who falls into a sin. The description of his circumstance is likened to a bone which is broken and in need of resetting in order to be restored to usefulness. This healing ministration is a task which requires a gentle spirit of humility and help. This purposeful and spiritual healing act of goodness is a far cry from randomness, especially as it pertains to doing the Spirit’s work of the restoration to usefulness of a fallen saint. It is a holy task which can only be performed by a believer.

Proper healing of broken bones does not happen over night. Nor is it something as simple as “take two aspirins and call me in the morning.” There is often a need for others to bear up under the burden of the patient. He cannot support his own weight without help. Our text calls this a “burden” (a heavy weight or a trial—verse 2). The helper does this even while bearing his own “load’ (his own pack—verse 5). This is what is meant by Jesus’ command in the golden rule—in so doing fulfill the law of Christ. It is a spiritual arena of commitment, of priority, of burden-bearing, of selflessness and of Spirit-led sensitivity.

As verse 10 states, it is appropriate to do “the” good (Spirit-led service) to all, and most especially to those who are belonging to the household of faith. Are you simply getting by with “random acts of kindness” or are you purposely in partnership with the Holy Spirit to further His work in the lives of others? Begin by taking stock of your relationships among the saints of your own spiritual household. Trust and obey.