All I ever did was care. I gave what I had. And maybe even some more.
I was always nice. Always did the “right” thing by my friend.
I thought it would be reciprocated. I thought it was an even friendship. And it was. It was a nice friendship.
Something went wrong.
The phone calls weren’t returned. The text messages ignored. Just like that. The end of a friendship. No explanation. Nothing.
All I ever did was care. I always tried to be nice. And it somehow blew up in my face.
No explanation. No response. That’s it. All gone. That’s what I get for being nice.
But I think that’s where it all went wrong.
The dictionary definition of being “nice” talks about being “pleasing, pleasant, and agreeable.”
Or as someone else so classily puts it on Urban Dictionary, “Calling someone a nice guy simply means you don’t want to sleep with him. There is something about him that is polite and respectful, but you’re not interested, so instead you are just nice.”
There’s a problem with this.
Are we called to be nice?
I believe we confuse the concept of being nice with being kind and compassionate.
I’m not convinced the Bible teaches us to be nice.
The book of Galatians teaches the believers of Christ what characteristics are given to them through the Holy Spirit. The complete list includes: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians chapter 5, verses 22-23)
We are to love others.
Joy is the most complete expression of happiness.
Peace is a state of tranquility, free from chaos.
Patience is accepting or tolerating problems, without being annoyed.
Kindness is being friendly, generous and considerate.
Goodness is living to a high standard. Having a sense of integrity.
Faithfulness is our desire to love God, and be true to this belief.
When we are mild-tempered or tender we are showing gentleness.
The ability to control your emotions and desires, in the most trying of circumstances, is showing strong self-control.
Paul in his instructions to the church in Galatia doesn’t inform them as part of producing the fruit of the spirit to be nice.
So are we to be nice?
Looking at the list above, kindness, goodness and gentleness appear to be the cousins of being nice.
If someone is friendly, generous, considerate, displays integrity, shows tenderness and keeps an even temper, then they are displaying the fruits of the Spirit.
If someone is being pleasant and agreeable, then they are being nice.
See the difference?
I did. In the depths of my grief over this friendship. Unfortunately I saw it too late to avoid being hurt.
But I know for next time.
The perfect example is Jesus.
I can’t find a situation in the Gospels where Jesus was agreeable. There’s plenty of examples where people agreed with Jesus. But He didn’t simply agree with what was happening around Him.
He came to transform, not to conform.
He was joyous, peaceful, patient (some of His disciples really tested this), kind, good, faithful, gentle and displayed self-control.
He wasn’t nice.
And this isn’t a bad thing.
It’s a wonderful thing.
Because it sets us free.
When we are nice we are conforming. When we display the fruits of the Spirit we are transforming.
Don’t conform in your relationships, transform them.
If I had my time again in this friendship, I wouldn’t have been nice. I would’ve been kind, showed self-control, mixed in a little gentleness…you get the point. But I wouldn’t be nice.
What’s the point in that?
Give me transformation over conformation any day.
Or is that just me?