Nice vs Kind—Beware of The “Gospel of Nice”

person bending over to help a senior man with cane who fell

More self-labeled Christians believe that being nice is more important than anything else. Curiously, none of God’s commandments mention being “nice.” Could that be because “nice” is concerned about what people see while kindness is the pure outflow of the heart? 

Niceness is how we try to climb the social ladder. But kindness is how we lift up others.”—Yaholo

Nice and Kind Aren’t the Same

What does “nice” even mean? (The definition may shock you.) Ask 100 people to draw what nice looks like and you’ll get at least 85 smiley faces. I know, because I’ve asked audiences to do similar things over the years. 

Some folks think nice means:

  1. Speaking softly
  2. People-pleasing
  3. Saying please and thank you
  4. Smiling all the time
  5. Not arguing or debating

The Definition of Nice

“The word “Nice comes from the Latin word nescius (ignorant), which is also the origin of a lesser-known English word, nescience (ignorance). The word took a trip from Latin through Old French and Middle English before ending up in Modern English.

Nice is a splendid example of a word that is highly polysemous, which means that it has multiple meanings.”

—Merriam Webster

Nice Means More Than One Thing

The word “nice” has a variety of meanings.

For example, it can mean:

  1. “Pleasant” or “unpleasant”.
  2. “Virtuous” or “lewd”.
  3. “Modest” or “indecent”.

Until I looked it up, I didn’t realize that “nice” nullifies itself. Without context, it’s meaningless. I think the definition of nice as ignorant is fabulously appropriate.

Searching the Bible For “Nice”

No major Bible translation contains the word “nice.” The Message (MSG) uses it liberally, but in ways that abandon the reader to their own opinion.

Here’s my favorite “nice” verse from The Message:

You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook?

The same verse in the New King James (NKJV):

And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Choose Words With Meaning

Instead of the non-definable word “nice”, the NKJV uses words with meaning: goodness, forbearance, longsuffering.

The “Gospel of Nice” is both meaningless and dangerous. It claims membership in the body of believers as well as in a legion of demons. The gospel of Nice needs to be ejected from Christian spaces because there is no common ground between God and evil.

Instead, consider what it means to be kind. Major translations don’t use the word nice at all, but include 200 +/- references to kind or kindness (or lovingkindness.) No matter what scale you use, 200-0 makes a huge statement.

From Pastor Voddy Baucham:

“Many Christians aren’t aware of the 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt be kind.” And they don’t believe the other ten…”

Nice Isn’t Spiritual Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Most of this post was originally published as an email to my subscriber list. Please consider subscribing to receive 2-4 emails per month (as the Spirit leads.) I’d love to welcome you to the community.

Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber

Lynn is a best-selling Christian author encouraging and equipping the people of Christ to live in peace, power, and purpose using simple gospel principles.

Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber

Lynn is a best-selling Christian author encouraging and equipping the people of Christ to live in peace, power, and purpose using simple gospel principles.

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