As I pondered this blog in my mind this afternoon, one thing that came to mind was that the word “nice” from what I can recall, is not in the bible. That was interesting to me because so many times that is a word that is used, in friendships, parenting, attitudes and personality. Phrases like, “play nice”, “be nice”, “you’re not being nice”, “she is so nice”, even “you look nice”. But really… what does that even mean? Does it mean that our emotions are tickled and ego is stroked? In some ways, it is a very bland word, although usually favorable, very non-descriptive. In the bible, usually the word was, loving, gracious, kind, God-fearing, or even good. When I think about the impression I leave on someone, I pray that it is more than “nice”. Why? because nice, attributes nothing to the Lord and puts the focus on me or a one-off catch me in a “good” moment. When I describe or think through something I challenge myself not to leave it at nice. Why was it nice, why were they nice? More often than not it can come down to the fruit of the Spirit. When someone is loving, kind, joyful, patient, self-controlled, peaceful, good, or faithful it stands out and we remember and appreciate that. But really, they are drawn to the attribute of God that He has put in you. It is the fruit of the Spirit. Not the fruit of our own doing.
When you see the fruit of the Spirit in someone, praise the Lord for that. Currently, in this time of history, there are common graces and common gifts, so an unbeliever can show glimpses of love, joy, goodness, but it is only skin deep. When you see an unbeliever, praise the Lord, and pray for them too. That they would understand the source of that joy, kindness, or self-control. In the body of Christ, it would be wonderful to hear and see people recognizing people for the Spirit in their life. “So they can see your good works and praise the Father who is in Heaven.” Matt 5:16 Be specific. Don’t just say they have a nice house, or nice car, or nice clothes, or that they are nice. In light of eternity, none of those things matter. Really with out the Holy Spirit, who cares? Evaluate your thinking, perspective and aspirations. Look around and identify the Spirit in people’s lives FIRST. Then decide what’s “nice” or not.
So basically, if the only thing you can say about someone is that they are nice… it’s too bad. Hopefully you can identify specific fruits of the Spirit that the Lord has put in their life. And for goodness sakes, please don’t encourage your children to play nice. Teach them to play and interact with love, or grace, or self-control. If they come to you saying that someone else is not being nice… press for specifics. Are they being selfish, rebellious, angry? Talk to them about their heart and help them to pray for their friend and ask for forgiveness since many times their heart can be the same way.
With that there were some people who I initially thought were nice today, and now I think differently:
– Christian at Trader Joe’s you were so joyful. Even though you were working at 8pm it encouraged me to do my work with a joyful heart and to be kind with the people I interact with, even for just 2 minutes.
– Mom you were so loving to come help me clean out the front bedroom today. I appreciated your patience with me as we went through all the stuff!
-Sweet Gav I appreciate your faithfulness to me and the Lord. That is a treasure to me. I praise the Lord for the Love and joy you bring to my life everyday.
– Lady in the restaurant you were so gracious to let me eat first and pay second so I could go get my wallet at home. There are many things we don’t deserve and that was a good reminder! How much more does our Father in Heaven lavish us?
-Lady in the parking lot… you taught me patience today because you were not very nice.