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