He’s so nice. She’s so nice. We hear that about people who we see as those who make everyone feel good, warm and fuzzy. We like nice people. We want to be around nice people. They make things so pleasant for all concerned. I’ve even heard others say that about those who are Christians, “they are nice people.”
Nice people tend to want to make everything easy for all concerned. They want to make sure everyone feels good about whatever is happening. They want to smooth over any rough patches. In other words, they seek to keep down controversy and acrimony. Not bad things at first blush. None of us like chaos or controversy. We all would like for everyone to get along. I don’t believe there are many persons who want things to be difficult or hard.
Here’s the thing though, Jesus wasn’t about being nice. Jesus was good and kind. There is a difference. Goodness comes from our core being. When we are pushed to the extremes, when we are backed into a corner, when we are having a bad day, when we are being challenged, or not getting our way, we generally retreat to our core being. It is from our core that we respond when things are difficult or challenging.
Jesus challenges us to live out of the goodness at our core being. In Matthew 5:16 he tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” And in Luke 6:31-35 we read, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”
Jesus, in dealing with those around him who others saw as sinners, was kind, he was acting out of his innate goodness. He didn’t judge, he didn’t denigrate, he didn’t ostracize. He exhibited a kindness in his spirit. Jesus, in defending the one caught in adultery was responding out of his core goodness. Jesus, in speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, exhibited his core goodness. He wasn’t striving for niceness, but rather goodness and kindness. Niceness would simply have swept issues under the rug, Jesus didn’t do that. He spoke directly about them, but in love. His love shone through in how he treated those he encountered.
Paul, in writing to the Ephesians in 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And finally in the letter to Galatians 5:22-23 we read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” We are created for goodness and kindness. These are fruits of the Spirit. We were not created to be nice, but we were created to be good and kind.
In our daily interactions with each other, I wonder how far goodness and kindness will get us? When I respond from a core goodness which Jesus has planted in me, I will exhibit and exude the love he calls for from me. At the end of the day, I hope others can say I was always kind and good. If that’s how others perceive me, I will have come a long way on my journey of following Jesus.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,