by Terri Gillespie
Let kindness and truth never leave you—bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3 TLV
A while back, there were these commercials for an energy/snack bar called KIND. It was a thoughtful advertisement because it practically defined the difference between nice and kind.
When I read this passage in Proverbs, I checked out the company’s website. It turns out, the founder of KIND is a child of a Holocaust survivor. Reading his corporation’s mission statement gave me insight into why he named his product KIND.
“Nice means well, but it’s not enough. Kind is different. Nice is polite, but it stays out of it. Kind is honest — it speaks up and rises to the occasion. Nice doesn’t bully, but Kind stands up to bullies. Nice is something you say, whereas Kind is something you do.” DANIEL LUBETZKY, FOUNDER of KIND SNACKS AND THE KIND FOUNDATION
Honestly, up until a few years ago, I had thought of nice and kind as interchangeable. That apparently has been my problem. Even though nice is good, it is frustrating when one assumes it is the same as kindness. What do I mean by this?
I love living in the South. People are so polite, which was refreshing coming from the East Coast where folks tend to be brusque. However, after a few months of living here, hubby and I were disappointed that the politeness — niceness — didn’t carry through to building relationships. It was confusing.
Dealing with the East Coast folks, we knew who and what we were dealing with—we knew our kindness was an act of faith, not fellowship. We were always grateful for the fruits of our labor—the sweet, lasting friendships that developed.
Sometimes, a nice person’s actions are based on feelings — they might crave the on-the-spot approval or validation that niceness gives them. Or they were simply brought up to be polite and nice (which really isn’t a bad thing) and were reprimanded if they were rude (also not a bad thing).
Still, I do like having nice people around. Nevertheless, politeness is a temporary action, not intended to go any deeper. It is pleasant but goes no further. No other involvement of the heart.
Kind people aren’t afraid of sacrifice if the need arises. A polite greeting from a kind person can promptly turn to aid and compassion if required.
Did you know the Bible agrees with this? The word kindness is used in thirty-four passages, lovingkindness one hundred four times! Many times, it is used as an attribute of GOD.
And the word nice? It is only used once. And, not in a “nice” way: “For even your brothers—your father’s house— even they will betray you, even they will shout out after you. Have no confidence in them, even if they say nice words to you” (Jeremiah 12: 6 TLV, emphasis mine).
Really, the difference between kindness and niceness is truth. Truth in our motivations, truth in our actions.
Just as politeness can be taught, so can kindness. But it must begin with a journey of the heart. Seeking the LORD to show us whether we operate in niceness or kindness, or perhaps a bit of both. He will help us refine our motives if we are willing. He will help us see the needs around us and respond according to His will and purpose.
We become His partners — His hands — in kindness. How great is that!
Heavenly Father, I want to learn how to be more than nice and polite. I want to be one of Your partners in kindness. Please show me how, by Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year.
Join the conversation: How would you rather be treated: nicely, or with kindness? Why?