What kindness is not: Kindness is not the same as being nice, nor is it lying or being misleading on a matter because you feel uncomfortable stating the truth. One can be “nice” without being kind. Nice is merely being pleasant or inoffensive, kindness is an active behavior. Nor is kindness letting others walk all over you. In fact, maintaining healthy boundaries and rules for how others treat you can be an act of kindness towards yourself. Being raised in the church I’ve found that some Americans confuse being a good Christian with being nice and therefore let others walk all over them. Doing so is not being kind, it is being a doormat. You have a right to be appropriately assertive and to not allow others to take advantage of you or to disrespect you. Being a ‘good Christian’ does not mean one must be passive and unassertive. In fact, being appropriately assertive is a form of healthy behavior.

Being kind also means that we do not claim ‘kindness’ or ‘love’ as a pretext to lecture or to force our religious beliefs on others in the name of ‘truth’. Such acts invariably backfire anyway, pushing people away from you and away from your version of religion. You can certainly share your religious beliefs with others when it is appropriate and welcome, but using ‘love’ or ‘kindness’ as an excuse to lecture others on your personal religious beliefs is generally counterproductive and seen as arrogant and unwelcome at best. At worse, it is seen as cruel. Neither advances the kingdom.

Ron Hill