Here’s an article I wrote for our MOPS newsletter and decided to share. I would love any input! 🙂
Are you a Nice Person? Most people would probably answer yes—and caveat it with “Well, I’m a lot nicer than some of the people I know!” But let’s look at what we’re actually saying here. A Nice Person is someone whose behavior and character consistently and regularly so exemplifies these traits that they can be seen as a poster child for them: amiable, admirable, kind, tactful, careful, considerate, looking out for others, generous, uncomplaining, gracious, fair, courteous, pleasant, friendly…the list goes on! Now some of us might be squirming a bit…especially if we’re moms and we’ve been awake more than 10 minutes! But still, deep down inside, many of us are still thinking “Well, I’m not perfect but I am nice sometimes.” Let’s see. Think of some nice acts or behaviors you or someone you know has done recently. We’re going to lay down some rules for niceness here and see if your examples fit the bill. First, the nice thing you do can’t be something you’re getting paid for; that’s a duty, not a kind act. Second, while doing or being nice you can’t have nasty or selfish ulterior motives: like when you wash your husbands’ car so that he’s in a good mood before you tell him about that new $300 jacket sitting in the closet. Third, you can’t call it being “nice” if you’re doing something for some personal gain like money or prestige. You know those lists of big donors at big expensive public buildings? They weren’t being nice. They were advertising. If they really wanted to be nice about it, without desiring personal recognition, they could have given the money anonymously. And lastly, let’s assume that we can know all the thoughts that were attendant at the act(s) of niceness and they are all just as nice as the outward behavior. So…..have any examples survived?? Now the excuses come out, at least, if you are anything like me. “I wasn’t nice to that person at the checkout because there were 4 screaming children surrounding me—all mine!” I think that I am not alone in being a hugely understanding and forgiving person…of my own sins. Now, other people’s….especially when directed at me….well, that’s usually a different story!
When you get right down to it, you realize that you really aren’t that nice of a person. And neither is anybody else you know personally. You might hold out some hope for distant, famous people—Mother Theresa and St. Patrick are coming to my mind—but you can’t think of a single person whose character and behavior is so in line, in every circumstance, with those nice words that you could call them A Nice Person.
So is this Nice Person a mythic fable? Is being a Nice Person completely unattainable?
We will be studying the character of Jesus this month during our Bible Study. While we do, it would be worthwhile to ask “Is this guy for real??” Is it possible that there lived such a man, that even his enemies couldn’t find ONE SINGLE EXAMPLE of him acting in a sinful, not-nice way??
And as Christians, we can also ask ourselves “Can I be a Nice Person?” I mean, with the Holy Spirit living inside us, it seems a done deal. Yet the Bible is clear that there is NO ONE who is good; “No, not one.” Somewhere, somehow, every single nice thing we do is tainted by sin/selfishness. And we are reminded: “…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:28-31)
As Christians, we have been given the ultimate righteousness of Christ; so when our actions do approach His goodness we can give Him the credit and when they don’t we can rest in the assurance that Christ is our righteousness!