Are We Slaves to “Niceness”?
If you avoid the conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.Unknown
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.George Orwell
We must give up the vain idea of trying to please everybody. That is impossible. And the attempt is a mere waste of time. We must be content to walk in Christ’s steps, and let the world say what it likes.J.C. Ryle
Are you ready for a good summer read? I couldn’t put this book down!
Back in the spring, I ordered a couple books from ChristianBook.com. I always enjoy the opportunity to try and read more over the summer. One of the books I ordered was Sharon Hodde Miller’s, “Nice: Why We Love to Be Liked and How God Calls Us to More”.
I was immediately fascinated by the title.
I’ve often been labeled as “nice” since I was a child. Sometimes it was meant as a compliment, and other times it was meant as an insult. Regardless, I’ve never felt fully comfortable with being labeled “nice”.
I’m not saying I want to be mean, rash, or abrasive when I speak or in how others view me, but Jesus wasn’t even “nice”. And as I’ve read the many examples of saints and martyrs in John Foxe’s “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”, those Christians were never “nice”.
In Miller’s book, I greatly appreciated that she pointed out that abusers are often “nice”. While that may seem like a strange concept, I know this first hand. Abusers often seem nice to the outside world, and it’s how they get away with the abuse. They will often surround themselves with “flying monkeys” who will stand up for them and their character without really knowing the nature of their abuse.
This is the very reason we need to stay in God’s Word and be filled with Truth constantly. It’s so easy to be swept up in a lie when we don’t have the wisdom and knowledge of Truth inside us.
Miller brings up the examples of Larry Nassar and the large number of gymnasts that were abused over the years despite many of these young girls speaking out to their coaches and parents. How did so many well-meaning adults not believe them?
That’s definitely the dangerous side of “niceness”. If we put it on a pedestal, we are no longer using the Holy Spirit to guide us by having discernment. When we’re blinded and bedazzled by niceness we fall prey to being led astray. I’m sure we’ve all been misled at some point by someone who was “nice”.
Miller goes on to give examples in history of those who were “nice”. I was shocked by the examples, but also recognized the reality that those who don’t fight and stand up for truth are being complicit with a lie. They are like sheep who want to go with the flow and not rock the boat, so they choose to not take action and sit idly by.
It’s simply being lukewarm, passive, and it allows evil to flourish.
Within her book, Miller also discusses how we often choose “niceness” because we feel we’re going to get something out of being “nice”. Instead of saying something truthful and helpful, we often think we’re helping by just being “nice”.
If we really reflect on that, how damaging is that to others and to ourselves? We’re simply being fake. We’re not being image-bearers of God.
Recently, I read to my children the story of Jesus confronting the men selling goods in the synagogue, God’s House. Jesus had a whip in his hand. He flipped tables. He yelled and was angry.
Clearly, Jesus isn’t “nice”.
He is kind, bold, truthful, encouraging, and controversial. Jesus is so multi-faceted. I continue to be in awe of His character because HE IS GOD. He clearly wasn’t “nice” to keep the peace. He is Truth in Love. He lived it out while here on earth. The Holy Spirit lives in believers so that we can be truth in love. We are to be bold like Christ.
If you’ve read this book or are interested in reading it, please let me know in the comments. I would love to know what you think of the book if you’ve read it. If you have the Right Now Media app, Sharon Hodde Miller also has a video series study on this book. I haven’t completed the study, but I highly recommend her book.
Go check it out!
God bless, and thank you for reading!
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ- with all boldness and without hindrance!Acts 28:31
14 thoughts on “Are We Slaves to “Niceness”?”
Another powerful post, Amber! We need truth, grace, and boldness in this age. It is not nice to do nothing while people are in bondage to sin. Thank you for sharing. 💕
Wow! Such a good read! I desperately need this reminder in my life as I often fall into the temptation of putting niceness before truth. It’s a dangerous place to be and I really appreciate your encouragement to hold scripture and the honor of God in higher esteem than people pleasing! Good stuff here!
Thanks, Bethany! It’s definitely worth reading her book! It’s one I will definitely need to come back to.
Being “nice” is not always what’s best.
I’m like Curly of the Three Stooges when it comes to dealings with certain nasty people in this world; “NOT ME!!!” So there is part of my answer right off the bat; the rest is when people are nice to me they will get that back always with interest! What’s the great adage, fool me once shame on you and fool me twice shame on me! So let’s say it like it is with all of the Massive Global Deception with our own localized as well going on in this Helter-Skelter jumbled up world these days, why should I try to win any contests on “NICE!” Please; I have far better things to do than be bothered with “likes” and oh isn’t he a nice fellow! Yea right Jack; you mean I’d be a good sucker! This is a big problem with the High Tech Social Media Minded World these days where a generation is growing up in artificiality and superficiality on steroids; all Fake Nonsense for the most part!
And to make it worse people in general today have no shame or integrity, so many are doing lots of sucker punching figuratively and literally of others for blood sport; look it up on the net one story was circulating just last week some kid on a street corner doing his thing and a car pulls up with some derelict jumping out and slamming the kid in the head and driving off! When I was growing up nothing like that ever happened and many do this evil now just to record it on video to boast or they are that nuts; probably both. Then I saw another video clip just last night where a police officer was being violently pummeled by a group of deranged typical street punks these days; with absolutely no respect for anything or anyone; just to make the statement that they hate cops! Maybe when some of them are being victimized or maybe murdered, they will be wishing the Police were around to save the day; as many have done over the decades and centuries! SICK WORLD!
Well my latest posting “Love is not self seeking” clearly illustrates how I can be hard-nosed and not so nice with bad people that are in high places affecting our lives! Sometimes I have something I feel is important to say to those sorts and I do my duty!
Many blessings Amber!
Yes, we need that discernment from the Spirit as to when to speak up and be truthful. It’s important to not back away and let evil flourish for fear of the world.
You put that very well Amber my Sister and Friend! I’ve said it before mainly learning the biggest lesson through some hard knocks, but this life and anyone in it is nothing I fear but I do fear the Lord, because this life is too short and I face eternity which I’m very concerned about; more than ever now! Amen.
God bless you and yours!
I think this is such an important point to be mindful of. Jesus, and the Kingdom he called us to build, was full of unconditional love. But that love would never leave us open to abuse and that love certainly calls us to challenge all the systemic sin that shapes our world (as we see him doing with his demonstration in the Temple as you mentioned above). And I feel like sometimes we need “permission” to not worry about being nice. And you frame it so well here! There’s a quote from ‘Doctor Who’ that I have framed on my wall that I feel speaks to this very well. The Doctor says, “Never be cruel. Never be cowardly. Remember, hate is always foolish and love is always wise. Always try to be nice but never fail to be kind.” Nice can be important but, as you outline so well above, nice can be problematic, too. But if we live, love, and act in kindness, then we’re circumventing some of the troubles niceness can lead us to.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful and on-point comment. I appreciate you sharing the “Doctor Who” quote. You’re so right that we need “permission” to not worry about being nice- that’s a great way of putting it.
Hi Amber. I just added this book to my reading list. I appreciate you giving an objective opinion on this book. I look forward to reading and learning. I just posted this blog post on Twitter tagging the author. I appreciate your writing.
Thank you, Ada! I appreciate you sharing. I’m not on Twitter, but thank you for tagging the author. This is such a great read, and I hope you are blessed by it.
some times I AM, THANKS FOR sharing