Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

Not Nice, But Kind

I still remember it quite clearly. I had “shared” something on social media; a verse. A couple of my “friends” didn’t like it. How do I know they didn’t like what I shared? It was not because they let me know. No. I knew they didn’t like it because they proceeded to post on social media, comments, to each other, about what I had written.  Since these people were always nice to my face, I thought that meant they liked and cared about me and my opinion. No. That’s not what it means when someone is nice to you. When someone is nice to you they may not like you at all.

Some of the nicest people I have known have hurt me the most deeply. They have betrayed me and many times while saying nice things to my face. They have said what I may have wanted to hear. They have offered me flattery. They have soothed my conscience. All of these things felt good in the moment, but soon their purpose was exposed. They wanted to be the friendly one. They wanted people to think well of them. Some were just nosy and wanted a bit of gossip to share, others wanted me to reveal something that would make me smaller to them and allow them to feel better about themselves.

We have a cultural problem in this country (one of many) and it is being nice. It is not honest or genuine or sincere. It is self-serving and almost always vicious.  This isn’t a new thing, although “being nice” is held in high regard in our current culture, and I think more so than in other cultures.

Jesus also experienced this “niceness” with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16-18), and with Judas (as cited below).

“Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. They laid hands on Him and seized Him…” Mark 14:44-46

Verse 45 of the Pulpit Commentary says: “The kiss was an ancient mode of salutation amongst the Jews, the Romans, and other nations. It is possible that this was the usual mode with which the disciples greeted Christ when they returned to him after any absence. But Judas abused this token of friendship, using it for a base and treacherous purpose.”

A kiss was culturally acceptable, a nicety (a minor aspect of polite social behavior), and in this case was used to trap Jesus. Of course, Jesus knew all of this (Luke 22:21-22, Luke 22:48), and he knew what he must do.  

Garden of Gethsemane by Ian Scott
Garden of Gethsemane by Ian Scott

We have replaced niceness for kindness and as a result most people don’t know the difference between the two.

Nice – pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.

Niceness is usually motivated by self. It’s a false word or a disingenuous smile. It makes you feel good in the moment, but later stabs you in the back.

Kind – having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others.

Kindness is always motivated by love. It is love in action. It is courteous and mannerly, treating people with respect and dignity.

God always calls us to kindness and never calls us to niceness.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” Colossians 3:12

Yesterday was not a good day. More bad news and I was so tired. While in the throes of self-pity, going down the check-list of problems to the Lord, frustration, exhaustion, and confusion, jumbling my mind, a thought occurred to me: “God is always kind to me, he’s not nice”. I pushed the thought aside, trying to focus on my long list of troubles. I stopped with my list, I read a little of my Bible, I laid down to rest.

Since then I’ve thought more on this: God is always kind towards us and never nice. He always calls us to kindness and never calls us to niceness.

God’s kindness towards us is shown in these scriptures below, and is exhibited towards us through Christ Jesus:

  • “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7
  • “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:4-6
  • “But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness; And You did not forsake them.” Nehemiah 9:17
  • How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 36:7
  • Answer me, O LORD, for Your loving-kindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me. Psalm 69:16
  • Blessed be the LORD, For He has made marvelous His loving-kindness to me in a besieged city. Psalm 31:21
  • I shall make mention of the loving-kindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His loving-kindnesses. Isaiah 63:7
  • For His loving-kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD! Psalm 117:2
  • Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. Psalm 63:3

He, through Jesus, shows us kindness, and we, in Christ Jesus, can show kindness towards others.

“Imitate Christ in your loving spirits; speak kindly, act kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of you, “He has been with Jesus.” -Charles Spurgeon

 

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