I recently heard someone preach a message on love and especially kindness, good word - certainly one that most of us need to be reminded of. As Christians, it’s so important to remember the truth about God’s kindness - that it’s His kindness that leads us to want to leave our old ways behind and trade them in for His ways (also known as repentance) (Romans 2:4).
This is hard for some who grew up steeped in a religious form of Christianity. Without a personal encounter, or conversion experience, that allowed them to understand the feeling of having this pure Being, who is Love, draw near to them despite the state they have found themselves in, it’s easy to pass judgment on others who grew up differently. We grew up having a form of godliness already - whether by growing up with church or through a particular culture, yet not always seeing the less visible forms of rot that afflict the human heart and mind - these less visible forms are the very logs in the eye that prevent honest self evaluation before critiquing specks of sawdust in the eye of another (Matthew 7:3-5). The former is not better off, but worse off than the latter, as it indicates a type of blindness to one’s own state (problem is with attitude more than condition - as we all suffer from this to varying degrees regardless of religion or not - it's how we choose to deal with it that matters). I know, as I had struggled with this myself until God’s kindness led me into proverbial wildernesses and smelting pots to expose and remove rotten attitudes that would destroy me. It was not nice. At all. [Massive understatement there, it actually sucked really bad].
But it was kind. Because it was loving.
Whether by ignorance, or pride; kindness may be lacking - but “niceness” might be abundant. This can happen where there are agreements/alignments with low self esteem, victimhood, rejection, and/or entitlement - kindness is traded in for niceness. Kindness has to do with loving yourself and others, niceness has to do with trying to make, or keep, people liking you, or to live up to someone else’s standards - whether real or imagined (even God’s, as though He doesn’t know what’s really going on).
There are kind people who may strike some as not very nice. There are some who are kind and also nice - but it’s impossible to be nice to everyone all the time, if you are, you’re not being kind to yourself, or honest - ie: you’re not loving yourself well somewhere, and that leads to problems that build up and burst out in places. Niceness has to do with pleasing others - and we can’t please others all the time without violating ourselves, and often those closest to us are along for the ride as well.
Kindness addresses core issues for the sake of well-being, true peace, solutions, healing, wholeness, and growth. Niceness without kindness is about creating a false sense of peace - which is rooted in fears of all types and can manifest fruit (symptoms) that then need to be managed, such as anger, bitterness, co-dependencies, passive-aggressiveness, manipulation, control and maybe even different types of illness.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic and how to overcome unhealthy agreement/alignment with niceness and increase your understanding of kindness, read this article by Psychiatrist Marcia Sirota.