Better Than Nice

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4-5, NIV)

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Nipping at the heels of this list is, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (verse 25). Being a person who embodies all nine of these virtues at the same time feels impossible. Thankfully, God is patient with us.

In his devotion, “Wearing Kindness,” Jeff Hopper shares that wearing kindness might mean, “We never put our blinders on. We’re looking out for those who have needs.” As one of the nine virtues that make up the fruit of the Spirit, let’s take a deeper look at what differentiates kindness from niceness.

The Greek word translated as kindness is chrēstotēs. It means, “the quality of being useful, helpful, or beneficial.” In essence, kindness is usefulness. It is meeting (taking action on behalf of) the needs of other people. It’s more than wanting to help; it’s actively helping. For example, a friend recently had knee replacement surgery and before I could think of a tangible way to help, another friend had already asked the best way to have a meal delivered. It wasn’t a question of “can I”; it was “pick an option.” Her act of kindness was useful, helpful, and beneficial.

Paul mentioned kindness often. In his letter to Titus, Paul used two terms for describing why God sent Jesus to the world: kindness and love. God’s love evident in his mercy. And his kindness because we need the benefits of his chrēstotēs.

People do a lot of nice things for one another. We say thank you to a delivery person for bringing the package to the door. When convenient, we allow someone behind us to walk through a door before releasing it. On social media, we acknowledge a personal loss to someone by saying, “love and prayers.” Niceness looks pretty on the outside, but it has shallow roots and little lasting impact. And, sometimes it can be more harmful when we share what someone wants to hear versus what they need to hear.

What might kindness look like for you at the golf course? When you leave your clubs with the outside service staff, take a couple extra minutes to look them in the eyes and ask how they are doing. Bring a cup of coffee or meal to the starter. Seek out your head golf professional for a conversation, not because you need something.

Being nice is easy; being kind takes a bit more effort (do you actually pray when you say “love and prayers”?). If you find yourself on the receiving end of kindness, express your gratitude and pay it forward.

Tracy Hanson
October 29, 2020
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