One of the things that I have struggled with and many men I know struggle with is the difference between kindness and niceness. These two things are not the same thing, and getting them confused often leads men down an unrighteous and undesirable path. Kindness, of course, is a fruit of the Spirit, whereas niceness is concerned meeting a need while placating feelings.
The reason why niceness eventually leads to evil is that it utilizes both truth and lies. For example, it is certainly nice to help out a homeless victim with food. On the other hand, it is also nice to say that “you’re not fat” when a woman asks you “do I look fat?” Helping the homeless person meets a need and also placates both of your feelings in a good way, but meeting the need with a lie also placates feelings but is inherently evil.
On the other hand, kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. In the Spirit there is only Truth. In reality, kindness is advocating the Truth with a touch of grace. Let’s look at a few examples.
Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.
- What is the Truth? — That we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.
- What is the grace? — That God sent His son, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Therefore, we can say that kindness is advocating the Truth with a touch of grace.
1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
- What is the Truth? — women/wives are the weaker vessel.
- What is the grace? — living with her in an understanding way, and showing her honor as a fellow heir in Christ (with a penalty for disobedience: so that prayers may not be hindered).
If a woman/wife asks if something makes her look fat and she is then…
- the Nice answer is no, but that is a lie.
- the Truthful answer is yes, but it is generally not graceful.
- a Kind answer may be to decline to answer or a sarcastic answer, as a Truthful answer may not be palatable to the ears.
- edit: a Kind answer may be something like: “Honey, you know I love you, but you have gained some weight. How can we work together one that?”
edit: Donal has some valid critique here. In general, what I was trying to get is that women are fairly good at reading between the lines, and do not necessarily have to be told overtly about something to understand. However, that can be confusing, so I added in a better example with my edit to be ‘more Truthful’ so to speak.
Men who are fathered and/or mentored to be men act and speak with a strong intent. This is normal. What is for men is often not what is for women.
Women, however, tend to need more flavoring with their food. Food is Truth. Is the essence and meat of the subject. However, Truth (or meat) by itself tends to be very unpalatable to women. Thus, they need flavoring with food to make it more palatable. This is where grace comes in.
Kindness is Truth with the flavor of grace. It is in this way that God treats us to bring us to repentance, and it is also in this way husbands are to treat their wives.
Learning how to be kind — how to speak the Truth with grace — is difficult and requires much practice and knowledge of Truth and how to speak and act gracefully, especially in conflict.