There is a term called Minnesota Nice, which refers to the kindness of those who live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Anyone who has met someone who comes from that state understands. Minnesota Nice people are friendly, welcoming, giving, easy to talk to, humble to a fault and willing to help with whatever you may need. I have encountered some Minnesota Nice people who took the time to take me on their boat, show me lighthouses in their area, and serve me a “hot dish” dinner. (A hot dish is what I would call a casserole.)
The idea of Minnesota Nice struck me as significant because it is an attribute that is so engrained in our society that it has been given a name. Would nice be the first word that comes to the minds of people in our society when they think about Christians? Maybe, but not necessarily. How much is our kindness and love toward others engrained in our community’s collective concept of the Christian person? Many other attributes may come to mind before nice when it comes to people’s perception of the quintessential Christian.
Which begs the question, “What should the Christian be known for?” The answer comes from St. Paul who said to the Ephesians, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). We as Christians are called to be beyond just nice.
We are to be tenderhearted as well, Paul says, which is translated from the Greek that means “well compassioned and sympathetic.” We should genuinely feel for others as Christ feels for us.
And we should be richly forgiving, not being judgmental in any way. People can tell if we are being phony. And showing forgiveness “from the heart,” as Christ did for us, cannot be faked.
Jesus told us, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The things that we say and do should not be said and done so that others can say how nice we are, but they should be said and done to point others to God and to God in Christ. We are not put on this earth just to be nice, but to be a reflection of the heart and mind of Christ to all the world. So be Christian Compassionate as well as Minnesota Nice.