Making the Necessary Distinction
Kindness is not niceness.2
Kindness demands we be angry at the sight of injustice.
Kindness demands we urge the venomous and destructive tongue to cease speaking.
Kindness demands we tell the truth.
When a person hellbent on evil routinely mistreats their fellow image-bearers:3 the kindest thing we can do is express our anger in a way which makes it impossible for the evildoer to ignore us. Tables may be flipped.4 Vulgarities may flow from our lips.5 But we will nonetheless be kind.
So, please: let’s stop mistaking kind for nice.
1. Photo from BibleProject (2017). The Crucifixion of Jesus: Luke 19-23. Screenshot from timestamp 1:20.
2. My understanding of the distinction between nice and kind is indebted to two works in particular: Cory, B.H. (2016). Love Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian Virtue. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum; and Miller, (S.H.) (2019). Nice: Why We Love to Be Liked and How God Calls Us to More. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
3. Genesis 1:26-27. All humans bear God’s image and therefore must be esteemed as worthy recipients of dignity and sacrificial love.
4. See Jesus’s table-flipping stunt in Jerusalem’s temple courts: Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-17.
5. See e.g., Galatians 5:12. Here Paul opposes certain teachers who taught the Galatians that Gentile men must be circumcised before they can receive God’s salvation (see Acts 15:1-29). Essentially, Paul says, “These guys are really into circumcision, eh? Well, I wish they’d go all the way and castrate themselves!”