Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.(Ephesians 4:32, NIV)
Are you a people pleaser? Have you struggled with setting boundaries and wondered what the Bible says about being “nice” to others? Raised Catholic, I was often told to turn the other cheek when anyone hurt me, and so I did. I often turned my cheek from side-to-side and allowed many “hurts” in my life without setting any healthy and clear boundaries. In Mathew 5:38-39, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” I often wondered how Jesus, Lover of truth, and justice, is telling us to sit back and accept lies and injustice. As I grew in my relationship with Him, I had a clearer understanding of what this Scripture means to me as it relates to my relationships.
As a child, I was being taught this verse in the context of being “nice” to avoid conflict. In essence, I was being trained to be passive—accepting any injustices or unfair treatment that I was experiencing. This carried over into my adult relationships, which resulted in two failed marriages and conflicts in other areas of my life; work related and in personal friendships. When Jesus says do not resist an evil person, I believe He is telling us not to avoid or fear an evil person. I also believe He is telling us to stand tall and confront this evil person by not backing down from the conflict that may arise. Turn the other cheek, like a boxer during a fight. He clearly tells us not to seek revenge or hold a grudge, but to stand firmly with both feet planted in the Word.
So, what is the difference between being “nice” and being “kind” according to the Word? I have searched for the word “nice” in the Bible and have not found it, therefore, I can confidently state it is not a biblical term. However, the Bible mentions “kindness” in over two-hundred instances and the word “kind” over four-hundred times. Kindness is being merciful, gracious, and tender-hearted while being just and righteous before God. We are to focus on pleasing God—not people. Jesus says to exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these He delights. Strive to be kind, not nice!
This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV)