I have often been ‘Mr Nice Guy’, yet niceness is not godliness. I read up on the difference between nice and kind and was shocked by how different these two words are, when most would consider them synonymous.
My reading suggested that ‘Nice’ has its origin in conflict avoidance and is worked out through fear and selfishness. Since ‘Nice’ avoids conflict it is subject to manipulation from anyone who forcefully demands what they want. Nice tries to arbitrate between factions, while failing to ask, ‘What is or is not acceptable?’
Kindness has its origin in the love of God. The love of God looks for peoples’ development into godliness and love. It recognises a person’s condition with compassion, but is not so patronising as to accept that state for the long term. Those who know God, recognise the grace of God is sufficient to draw us out of crisis and develop godliness and love.
When ‘Nice’ meets an unacceptable situation it avoids the pain of dealing with core issues by smoothing things over, dealing with surface emotions and condemning all involved to repeat the situation. ‘Kind’, in looking for love explores the real issues at a personal cost. ‘Kind’ is willing to be the ‘Bad Guy’, confronting with God’s Truth while looking for His grace, holding people to the best. We see this consistently when Jesus encounters challenging people in the gospels –
For the son of man came, not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 NIV)
We are supposed to be under grace not law, so why is there a de facto legalism? Maybe it is introduced to avoid the displeasure of God? We tend to believe that He is unwilling to act in the presence of sin yet God can do whatever He pleases, even through people I see as sinful. Who after all am I to set the standard for what brings God displeasure?
We have been brought up in an environment of cause and effect. If you do bad things then God can’t help you. This is the power of law and the fear that underwrites it. We do well to look at how God actually treats us rather than the logic of behaviour control. I am amazed at God’s mercy. Even when I do need to be trained through discipline, it is done so gently and He carries me every step of the way.
‘He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.’ (Colossians 2v13-14)
This is how Jesus gained us freedom from law. Crime deserves punishment beyond anything we imagine. Amazingly as we stand condemned before God and targeted for a punishment beyond description, Jesus stood in front of us and took it all! So God in His mercy disconnects sin and judgement and gains the freedom to show mercy. So the woman caught in adultery is not condemned by Jesus.