When it comes to words and definitions, our current society spins them to their agenda. This becomes very confusing when we attempt to have a conversation. If we are using the same words with different meanings, we make assumptions in the conversation that may lead us to even more hostility.
First, when speaking of niceness I want to note that the word “nice” is never used in Scripture. There are many words or ideas that may be similar to it, but nowhere does God say, “You must be nice.”
Second, the word which is written throughout Scripture, which I prefer to use instead of “nice” is the word kind. I would define being kind as showing compassion with action attached to it. If, therefore, you are partially compassionate to someone’s state of discomfort but do nothing about it, you are only in part kind. If you have no compassion for someone, but help them, for some other reason, again, you have not fulfilled kindness. You must be both compassionate and attempt to take action to be kind to someone else.
Ephesians 4:32 calls us to “be kind one to another.” This is really what Christ has done for the Christian. He saw our need for salvation, had compassion for that need, and took action by dying on the cross for our sins.
One of the greatest stories filled with kindness is the Old Testament story of Ruth. Kindness flows through the book and is mentioned several times. It is an act performed by several of the main characters.
Third, the word nice, in our current vocabulary, means pleasant, agreeable, or satisfactory. Sometimes people use the word kind and nice interchangeably, but they should not. I find kindness and niceness, while seemingly close, very different things. Often, when people try to use the word nice they don’t understand the difference between it and kindness. Or they may lump both definitions into the same word, causing even more confusion.
There are times when people think they are calling others to be kind, but really kindness has nothing to do with it. They are saying, “I want you to agree with what I say or am feeling.” There is a Grand Canyon sized chasm between having compassion for someone and agreeing with someone.
Here is an example of the issue. Bob does something which is contrary to God. Then he asks us to praise him, participate, or help with that thing. We do not, because we are more concerned about pleasing God than man. We love people, but we will not sacrifice obedience to God for it. Because of this, we are accused of “not being kind.” Although in reality, we are not being nice, which again God doesn’t call us to.
He then attempts to throw it in our face. “Look, that Christian is not a real or good Christian because they are not kind.” There is a bait and switch. While he attempts to use the same word, he interchanges the definitions of nice and kind. He is attempting to accuse us of not being kind, which he knows Christians are supposed to be compassionate and helping. In reality, what he is upset about is that we are not agreeing with his ungodly lifestyle or sin.
Agreeing with someone, if it goes against the ways of God, does not equate to kindness. In fact, we would be in sin if we would affirm with people things that God calls evil, which would not be kind or compassionate at all.
Words have meanings and definitions have consequences. Next time you are in a conversation with someone, sit down and ask them to first define their words. If, like the definitions of nice and kind, you are not on the same page, maybe you could agree to take a step back and define these terms, so you can have a reasonable conversation. Remember, if God has set a certain standard, you don’t have, nor should you be nice, if what is meant is to be agreeable with them. Christians should always be kind, but we are not always to be “nice.”
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