For those of you who are still with me following my post from the other day (yay you!), I’d like to point out a distinction that is very important. It is a distinction that governs my posts on this blog, and it should govern the viewpoints and interactions between Catholics and people of different faiths or no faith. It’s the difference between nice and kind. Sometimes we may think that the two terms are similar, but there is actually a significant distinction that makes the difference between lukewarm Catholics who are more concerned with how other people see them and strong, faithful Catholics who adhere to the truths of the Faith without concern for how their worldly reputation is affected.
According to dictionary.com, the word nice means “pleasing, agreeable, delightful.” The key part of that definition is “agreeable.” To be a nice person is to make yourself agreeable to someone so as to appear pleasing to them and not ruffle any feathers. Now, let’s go to the definition of kind. To be kind, according to dictionary.com, means “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition as a person” or “having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence,” as in kind words. Now, what does benevolence mean? According to dictionary.com, to be “characterized by or expressing goodwill and charitableness.” So, when you are being kind, you are willing the good of the other and looking out for their wellbeing. Can nice and kind be the same? Sometimes, but other times what is pleasing and agreeable to someone may not necessarily be what is for their own good.
In the Bible and in Church teaching, God is described as omnibenevolent, meaning that He is all-good and all-loving. He desires our wellbeing and happiness, which ultimately consists of eternal life with Him. Is everything that will bring us to this goal always agreeable and pleasant to us? No. And when we look in Scripture, there are at least 72 (maybe more) mentions of kindness and compassion. Furthermore, the Book of Wisdom states: “For the spirit of wisdom is benevolent, and will not acquit the evil speaker from his lips” (Wisdom 1:6). From this, we can deduce that what is evil is everything that is not benevolent, i.e. well-meaning and directed toward the good of another. This may include anything that is said in order to be pleasant and agreeable to what others want for themselves, i.e. nice. Also, Galatians 5:22-23 says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
You see niceness anywhere? Yeah, me neither. But look at what is there.
Besides the direct references to kindness and benevolence, I did a quick search, and you know how many times the word nice is in the Bible?
Yep, you guessed it. Zero. Nilch. Nada.
Our God is not a nice God. But He is kind. He wants what is best for us, just like a father should. But this also means that we have to throw out our notions of what we think kindness is. It’s different from nice. God is not going to coddle us and tell us that whatever we think or feel is okay because that’s what we want. Satan does that. God is kind and compassionate because He loves us by wanting what is for our good, not what we want for ourselves. To be His children we have to comply with what He knows is best, even if we don’t understand it. Things like gay “marriage,” contraception, giving ourselves our own gender identities, etc., seem pleasing to us and others may just refuse to object to be agreeable, but God won’t. Get used to it.
And so, if God is this way, shouldn’t all good, faithful Catholics be the same? If you agree with me, stick with me and buckle up. I am not nice when it comes to spreading the Faith. I am kind. And if you truly want your heavenly reward, you should be too. If you decide to turn away, I will be praying for you.
May God bless you all.