Be Kind or Play Nice

Driving to lunch yesterday I saw a frightening thing. Another car had made a very wrong turn and was traveling the wrong way down an exit ramp of a major interstate, about to enter the wrong side of oncoming traffic! My first reaction was to yell, “Stop!”


As I slowed to a crawl, almost unable to watch, the driver realized the mistake and quickly pulled off onto the grass. I continued on my way and could see in my rearview mirror that he was turning around and going in the correct direction.

The scene played in my head again later that day as I sat with a friend who has experienced some very hard trials in the second half of her life—some her fault, some not. The situations were very different but oddly the same.

I thought about the overwhelming urgency I felt to do something to prevent harm or possible death of the misguided driver I didn’t know. Although one was physical and one was spiritual, I found myself looking at another person, my friend that I do know and love well, who had made a wrong turn and was headed in the wrong direction. The question was should I, could I, would I tell her what I was seeing from my perspective?

As I sat listening to her latest struggle, Virginia Griffin’s words from the most recent women’s conference came to mind. Virginia gave a three question filter for speech: Is it true, is it necessary, and is it kind?

“Kindness, on the other hand, is a genuine desire to help others even when it hurts sometimes.”

Virginia went on to expound on the last question, defining how being biblically kind is very different from being nice. She said being nice is about me not wanting to offend someone. Being kind is rooted in compassion and is others focused. Nice is very uncomfortable with tension or conflict. Kindness, on the other hand, is a genuine desire to help others even when it hurts sometimes.

I’ve thought about this filter several times when I was about to speak in a negative way, but I realized that this filter works in helping me know when to speak for someone’s good as well.

Is it the truth? God’s Word is the absolute truth and it alone defines what is right and wrong.

Is it necessary? If the actions don’t line up with the moral compass of God’s Word, then according to Ephesians 4:15 and Galatians 6:1, I am called to gently speak the truth in love and help my friend turn away from sin.

Is it kind? This is the one that almost tripped me up. I had no problem wanting to save the wayward driver from destruction, but it was when it came to areas where I see my friend making wrong choices that I hesitated.

“I had a choice to make in that moment as an ezer, be kind or play nice.”

I told myself it was because I didn’t want to hurt her more in the moment since she was already sobbing, but I knew that wasn’t really the case. It was more about me not wanting to create more tension and ruin our “nice” lunch even further by pointing out her sin. It was about me not wanting to appear “judgmental” instead of being brave enough to tell her what I see from the outside looking in.

I had a choice to make in that moment as an ezer, be kind or play nice. What kind of friend did I want to be? A sincere one who didn’t hesitate to act on her behalf and maybe prevent further destruction, or one who sat idly by and held her tongue, doing nothing to help her right her course?

Father, Proverbs 27 tells me that wounds from heartfelt counsel of a sincere friend are better than kisses from an enemy and are pleasant like the smell of perfume. Help me Lord in my calling and purpose as an ezer to know when and how to speak your truth. Help me to be as gentle and compassionate as Jesus has been with me. Amen.

– Beverly Kinard, Pelham

Words are powerful and persuasive, and they tend to linger long after they are spoken. Whether they are used in God-honoring or selfish ways, words aren’t neutral. They are productive. Proverbs says that words kill and words give life. This means we have both magnificent power and responsibility at the tip of our tongue. If we hope to speak in ways that honor God and nurtures life in another, we need God to change us from the inside out. A Woman’s Words will launch the weeks of September 11 & 18. Click below to sign up.