on Spurning the Idol of Niceness
Contemporary Christians have an idol, and like all idols, it’s sneaky. It masquerades as virtue, leading well-intentioned Christians to forsake their God-given duty. It goes by many names, but I call it the idol of niceness. You may also call it agreeableness, winsomeness, or something similar. Whatever you call it, niceness is not the same as kindness.
Kindness is a biblically mandated fruit of the Spirit. Kindness is vital to the Christian walk and should be pursued wholeheartedly by all believers. The Greek word used by the Apostle Paul in Galatians for “kindness” is chréstotés. It doesn’t have a perfect English translation. It doesn’t simply refer to benevolence but includes moral uprightness, righteous acts toward others, and excellence in character. Chréstotés meets the needs—the true needs, not the perceived needs—of others in a God-honoring way and does so while avoiding harshness. It’s a richer concept than simply “being nice.”
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Zephram Foster is a writer and musician from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He works in higher education and in youth ministry in a Reformed Baptist Church. He writes songs, blogs, and hosts a film podcast called Not Qualified. He has been published in American Reformer, the Theopholis Institute, and elsewhere. His various outlets can be found at www.zeffoster.com.
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