The fruit of the [Holy] Spirit is listed for us in Galatians 5:22-23, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” But is “nice” a fruit of the Spirit? Was Jesus always “nice?” As we read His Word, sometimes we find He wasn’t nice at all―at least not by our standards.
There are several different definitions of the word nice. One of those definitions is kind. So, if that is your definition of nice, then, yes, nice could be considered a fruit of the Spirit. But let’s consider another definition of nice and that is “reticent.” Reticent means “to keep silent” or be “reluctant,” as in reluctance to speak the truth of God into someone’s life. Reticent also means reserved.
Why is nice not a fruit of the Spirit? Nice is too generic and too vague. Nice makes us socially acceptable and respectable, but that doesn’t often allow us to speak the sharp truth of the Bible that sets us free or sanctifies us! The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, cutting away that which needs to be cut away.
Love is patient, but patience is not the same as tolerance. When we tolerate what God hates and we are too nice to speak the truth about what God says in His Word, it is a hindrance for both us and the person who needs the truth. We actually hinder the flow and purposes of the Holy Spirit.
Patience is not the same as passivity either. When we remain passive (reticent) we are neither pleasing to the Lord, nor are we helping others in their walk with the Lord. Has the church become “just too nice” in recent years?
Many unresolved conflicts in churches may, in fact, come from trying so hard to be nice. Too much niceness in churches, and in marriages, may mask underlying conflict that needs to be healthily aired, carefully mediated, and patiently negotiated. That is what it takes to find true peace. (Jesus himself gave us the pattern to follow in Matthew 18:15-17.)
We are called to be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, but if someone sins against us or wrongs us, Jesus said to go to that person and in love tell them how they have wronged us. Depending on where that person is spiritually, the outcome may be good―or not so good. They may need time to process it or pray about it and may come back to you later (sometimes years later) and then there can be true reconciliation, but in either case, you will have done your part.