I was at work one day, not feeling well. My co-worker noticed and asked me what was wrong. I asked him, “Why do nice people always get the short end of the stick?” What he said in response has quite literally changed the trajectory of my life.

He said, “Don’t be nice. Be kind.”

I was confused. Those are the same thing, are they not? It took him a little more explanation before I finally understood the whole picture.

Nice is being pleasant and agreeable. While kind is having a generous and considerate nature. Kindness is holding the door open for that cranky person Sunday morning. It’s sending an old friend a wedding gift even though you didn’t get invited.

Kindness is a condition of the heart while “nice” is purely for outward appearances.


New Testament Examples of Kindness

There are many examples of this in the New Testament. Jesus often reminds us that it’s not just our actions but our intentions behind them that matter. He wants us to truly love those around us.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-40

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

Achieving true kindness is an ongoing process that I’m still working on to this day. One thing that has helped me get closer to that goal is patience. A great way I’ve found to practice patience is when I’m in my car. If I get cut off or get stuck behind someone driving slow, I take some deep breaths and try to focus on my music. Sometimes it’s better to “forgive and forget” than create an environment where conflict can spread.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Patience and kindness go hand-in-hand. I don’t know what the person who cut me off on the interstate is dealing with. Most likely, they were stressed and in a hurry, with no ill intentions. So I let them through without honking or cursing them under my breath.

While practicing these things, I’d sometimes find myself falling for the trap of pride. In my attempts to kill my ego, I’d often find that my pride had inflated instead. If I saw someone trying to be kind but it didn’t fit into my processes I would tell myself, “At least I don’t do that.” At my core I was elevating myself to being better than that person simply because I considered myself self-aware.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

It seems like such a simple concept and yet we often forget. Kindness is the heart condition that I was missing. Since that day I have turned what my friend said into my life motto, striving to be truly kind, rather than nice, to everyone I meet.


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Matt Rhodes

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