Thus says the Lord of hosts: render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. (Zechariah 7:9-10)
Like many other fruits of the Spirit, kindness is another that is often confused with something else. In this case, niceness.
Niceness is about keeping everyone happy. It’s about not stirring the pot or troubling the waters. It’s about the facade and superficial perception that is received by others and gives no care for what is really going on in any given situation.
Niceness is folly.
But kindness, that is another matter entirely.
Kindness is looking for the truth in a situation. It is is honoring those effected by it and engaging real emotions. It is seeking a better world.
So often niceness is seen as the synonym for kindness. But in reality, kindness has synonyms like mercy, grace, compassion, justice, love. These are true virtues.
However, our world would prefer we were merely nice. We should smile and pretend that everything is okay when it really, really isn’t. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone by actually figuring out what is wrong and doing something about it.
Nice is an often underestimated four-letter word.
We, the children of God, are called to something so much more than pretending. We are invited into a way of life that fulfills God’s vision, to which the prophet Zechariah refers in the passage above. We are created to share kindness with the world – to build up what is broken, to tear down what is causing oppression, to welcome the forgotten, to embrace the unwanted.
So, in this case, Cinderella’s mother was correct: have courage and be kind. And all will be well.