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Is It Time to Stop Being Nice?

There is a big difference between being nice and being godly or Christlike. People can be “nice” without the Spirit of God. Jesus was not nice, He was good. He was holy and righteous. He was loving, kind, compassionate, merciful, and self-sacrificing. But niceness was not His goal for Himself or for us.

NICENESS

Being nice is often about:

  • Protecting myself by being pleasant and agreeable.
  • Putting up a facade to impress others.
  • Getting people to like me so I feel better about myself or to avoid conflict.
  • Doing the right thing to look good to others but not necessarily with the right motives.
  • Wanting other people’s approval (people pleasing, which is a form of idolatry).
  • Trying to not rock the boat.
  • Taking the easy or wimpy way.
  • Being a doormat.
  • Giving up my influence or personhood.
  • Putting up with abuse.
  • Not speaking up when others are bullied or mistreated or when I am sinned against even when I should speak up.
  • Being weak.
  • Fear of what others may think.

GODLINESS

Acting in the Holy Spirit with God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is about:

  • Honoring God above everyone and everything else and desiring His approval more than anyone else’s.
  • Loving God wholeheartedly first.
  • Loving people with God’s love second.
  • Doing what is right in God’s eyes with the right motives.
  • Standing firmly against anything God says is wrong.
  • Speaking up against sin out of love for others and concern for their souls and eternal wellbeing. (Giving a godly rebuke but not in a critical spirit.)
  • Obeying God even when it is unpopular, even in the face of persecution.
  • Seeking to bless others and do what is in their best interest eternally.
  • Being respectful of all people but not of evil.
  • Defending and protecting those who are mistreated.
  • Seeking God’s glory, not mine.
  • Being very strong in Christ and in His authority to do good to others and to be the hands and feet for Jesus.
  • Being ready to face those who oppose the Lord with love, truth, gentleness, and respect.
  • Realizing people aren’t my enemies, my enemy is spiritual.
  • Being willing to upset people in order to please God, when necessary.

In godliness there is great strength. And any suffering we do endure, we know God will use it to purify us so we don’t have to be afraid.

Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…

1 Cor. 4:7-9

Niceness and godliness can look similar from a distance

Being nice and being godly/Christlike can sometimes look the same from the outside which can make things confusing for a lot of Christians.


Outward similarities between niceness and godliness/goodness can include things like:

  • Friendliness
  • Seeming selflessness
  • Lack of contentiousness
  • Avoiding being harsh or rude
  • Seeming loving attitude

But the motives, energy source, and goals are totally different.

Motives and goals

NICENESS

Niceness wants to avoid conflict or get people’s approval.

Niceness is motivated by pride, fear, worry, or idolatry of other people and is powered by self-effort and striving.

Nice people:

  • Are friendly so that other people will like them and not be mean to them, hopefully.
  • Act selflessly to try to win friends and get a good reputation.
  • Avoid arguments because they are afraid of conflict or because they don’t want to lose other people’s approval.
  • Try to treat others really well so that others will treat them well in return.
  • Try to act loving so they look good to others.

Nice people can be filled with doubt, insecurity, anxiety, depression, a desire to control others, fear, and worry. They beat themselves up when they make mistakes and often suffer from people pleasing and perfectionism. They want to appear righteous to other people with their own self-righteousness and their self-effort.

GODLINESS

Godliness wants to honor God and do what is ultimately best for others to bless them in eternity.

Godliness/Christlikeness is motivated by the love and truth of God and fueled by the Holy Spirit of God.

Godly people:

  • Are friendly to others because they are overflowing with the love of God for them.
  • Act selflessly because they seek to die to self and live to honor Christ as Lord.
  • Avoid unnecessary arguments and foolish controversies. But they stand firmly for biblical principles, treating others with respect, gentleness, and love as they share the truth, wanting to see others be healed and made whole in Christ. They are not afraid of conflict. They can stand their ground on important issues that matter to God. But they never do so in a way that is ugly, hateful, or hurtful.
  • Desire to treat others well because God treated them well. They want to be Jesus’ hands and feet to others out of gratitude for all Jesus did for them.
  • Seek to love others with the divine agape love (unconditional love) of God without expecting anything in return from other people, just wanting to please the Lord in their thoughts, motives, words, and actions.

Godly people are secure in their identity in Christ. They are overflowing with His supernatural peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. They are humble because they know there is nothing good in them. They depend on the goodness of Jesus to fill them and on His power to be able to do anything “good” in God’s eyes.

Nothing is about self or self-effort or glorifying self. Everything is about the power and glory of Jesus.

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How would you describe the differences between niceness and godliness/Christlikeness?

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13 thoughts to “Is It Time to Stop Being Nice?”

  1. I have often been caught in this trap and I do think that people pleasing and approval seeking is a huge part of what niceness is all about. Its the demand that we be pleasing without saying anything others don’t want to hear. I think you are right that niceness is a substitute for godliness. I have noticed in my life and in others that we often are taken in by counterfeits.

    For instance, I was in a situation in the past, where a man I was dating was standing off at a distance in a field. A girl showed up with her boyfriend; she was clearly unsaved and also under the influence of something. Her boyfriend went into the shop building on the property. Meanwhile, she spotted the man I was with who was behind me about fifty feet away, and immediately began doing a sort of dance that made a very immodest and suggestive display, gyrating and shaking her breasts. I quietly stepped between her and he who was behind me and she immediately stopped, asking if he was ” my man”. After a few moments of conversation she went into the shop with ” her” man.

    Later on the man I was dating commented about how he wished he had “that kind of confidence”. He thought her behavior displayed that she had good self esteem and was confident in her body and self. I was incredulous that he thought her display of drunken immodest behavior was in any way confidence or self worth. She clearly had no respect for herself, for me or for him, or her boyfriend, let alone the children with her who were witnessing this whole thing.

    I also have made these kinds of mistakes. I remember thinking that another man was displaying confidence when what he was really displaying was arrogance and bragging that covered up extreme insecurity. I’ve often mistaken my own pride for confidence and my own self righteous arrogance and controlling behavior for things like self respect, assertiveness and good self esteem. i’ve mistaken someone who is rude and aggressive for someone who tells it like it is and is honest and straight in their dealings which they sometimes were. But after being with that person for awhile I realized that they used ” just being honest” as a justification and excuse for saying things that were unnecessary, hurtful and unkind in an often brutal way .

    I guess the difference is what the outward is rooted in inwardly. But even someone who is truly in Christ still has the battle of not letting the world, the flesh and the enemy subtly shift their foundation into friendship with the world which can easily happen through social pressure, manipulation and intimidation. Often this happens through compromised ideas of what grace is.

    For instance, we see Paul saying to expel the immoral brother in scripture, for the reason of protecting the purity of the church as well as removing sin from the brother. Modern churches now allow professing christians to continue attending church even though it is known that they are living together as if married. Even if abstinent, its still a bad witness and questionable, not mention very tempting sexually. They apparently do this because they are afraid that if they hold to a hard line standard as Paul did, the persons in question will feel judged and experience this as not being shown grace and so because they don’t want to cause them to leave the church, and no doubt fear persecution and even legal consequences, they don’t tackle the issue.

    While obviously there should be truly loving attempts at teaching and leading, and speaking that go on in between ‘ Hi we would like to come to church even though we have this area of disobedience in our lives which we think is okay” and ” sorry but you have to leave because you are being immoral and disobedient”, the fact is that if it was wrong seventy five years ago, a hundred years ago, five hundred years ago, how did it suddenly become right? If Paul thought the church needed to be protected from the effects of sin back then, why do we think it doesn’t now? We are in a time where the slow erosion of godliness and truth has been stepped up to the level of sandblasting so right now is the time to realign ourselves with God and root out places where we have been compromised into counterfeit versions of truth.

    1. 7Times,

      Love this! So many profound truths here!

      Exactly! We do tend to get caught up in counterfeits. It’s easy for us to be deceived into believing that certain sinful things are actually virtues.

      You’re so right about things like:
      – Pride and arrogance being mistaken for healthy confidence.
      – Rudeness and aggression being mistaken for honesty.
      – Avoiding addressing sin (in a God-honoring way) being mistaken for love.

      Yes, we need the wisdom, discernment, and power of the Holy Spirit every moment. We won’t be completely free from sin until we reach heaven. We still have access to our sinful nature and can still choose to act in it. And we are still growing, learning, and being conformed to the image of Christ.

      And yes, we still need to get rid of sin. We still need holiness individually and in the church.

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      May the Lord help us all grow in Christ and choose His narrow path and identify the counterfeits quickly and avoid them. <3

  2. i’m just kinda posting my after thoughts after reading…and the term..”being a doormat” comes to mind! and we don’t wanna stay stuck in the victim mentality after feeling taken advantage of, but i think we find ourselves going down a path where we can notice an imbalance in our relationships when “being nice” is our go-to in relationships, ya know. it’s usually happening on subconscious levels because we don’t feel we have the resources to pull ourselves out of these patterns. and most the times we don’t, cuz we have been kinda primed to “be nice” by society. but, it seems like being on the other end of this.. is that a manipulator could take this to the extreme of becoming abusive and more subtle so they can have an upper hand in this dynamic. like this whole thing just welcomes being taken advantage of! 🙁 it’s so heartbreaking. we are totally vulnerable with out Jesus as our protection in this life. I feel that women in particular are highly susceptible to being taken advantage of in this sense. It’s just another reason that following a trusted husbands leadership is an excellent idea and acts as a protective bubble for women. The enemy is very crafty, but Jesus is stronger..Lord we need You greatly!

    1. Jaimie Mills,

      Yes, without Jesus and His wisdom and power, we tend to swing between unhealthy, dysfunctional extremes:
      – Aggressor or doormat.
      – Controller or controllee.
      – Weak or dominating.

      It is heartbreaking. What a mess we are all in on our own.

      We all definitely need Jesus’ help and the new nature He provides for us, as well as the crucifixion of our old sinful nature, in order to find the beautiful balanced godly life God has for us.

      Thanks for sharing!

        1. Jaimie Mills,

          Thank you. I’ve also been dealing with crazy hormones. It has been an exciting couple of months! Ha! Praying for God’s glory and for His strength in my weakness. And that I will learn all He wants me to learn through it all.

          Much love!

  3. Oh sister!! I really pray that the Lord helps the hormones neutralize supernaturally. But as you know, I’m sure it will cause growth in one way or another! I pray for God’s continued faithfulness toward you as you seek to grow through trials. being a woman can be quite the rollercoaster ride, hehe! Keep going love, and so glad you have such a good support system with Greg! SENDING YOU A BIG BEAR HUG, take some time for you! xoxoxo

    1. Jaimie Mills,

      Thank you for praying! I’m doing better since I went to the doctor. The last month I have felt more stable. There in July, whew! It was like I was on the 80th floor of a skyscraper in an elevator and all the sudden the elevator plunged down about 40 stories. I knew what it was, but it was still very disorienting. I’ll share about it soon, probably. But I appreciate the prayers SO much! Yes, being a woman definitely can be a roller coaster! Glad God didn’t put me in charge in the marriage. There are days it is very obvious why Greg should be in charge, not me!

      Thank you. Yes, he and my kids have been super supportive and understanding.

      Much love!

  4. Anytime, sister! Wow, love..its been quite the ride for you. Yikes, share when you’re ready! You’re sucha blessing April, I hope you know that! 😭 Women are the weaker vessel after all, but boy when we’re walking in His strength the devil can’t keep us down! so you just K E E P O N F I G H T I N G! The Lord spoke to me, about you.. something along the lines of, April is a “1 woman army” out here, in your ministry field. Nothing short of amazing. You blow me away, lady! I do pray you find time & space to rest, though! 🙂

    Covering you in..2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

    1. Jaimie Mills,

      Life is that way sometimes! I pray God will use it all to help me grow in Christlikeness and use it for His kingdom to bless others.

      I was so sad that no one taught me this stuff in my church, that I had to figure out so many things on my own later in life with books and no mentors. The older women are to teach the younger. Now that I have learned these precious treasures, I can’t keep them to myself. I long to share them with as many other women as the Lord will allow me to.

      Wow. That is really sweet. I sure can’t do anything apart from God, so if I am a one-woman army, He’s the army! I’m just the woman. Ha!

      May He heal many women and draw them to Himself! And may He heal many marriages, too. I want to see God’s people living on fire for Him and walking in His truth and in His Spirit.

      Much love!

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