Earlier in my walk with God I lacked spiritual muscles and discipline. And I lacked wisdom. I lacked understanding. To fill the void of truth, my only default was to play the Be Nice Game. Let me explain…
Playing the Be Nice Game was a trap for me who wanted to do the right thing, but didn’t know what that looked like. I wanted to be treated well and figured that would happen if I treated others well. It made sense to me at the time that being nice was the ticket to joy and happiness.
I know this sounds like a pretty strange way of looking at the world, but it was mine nonetheless.
The Be Nice Game is rooted in the false ethic of reciprocity which states that if we are nice to others, they will be nice to us. Nonsense! That is a Golden Rule Ruse. As Christians, we know that people do not always reciprocate when we treat them with Christ-like kindness, patience, and acceptance. Boy, do I know.
Our own efforts to be nice will always fall short, and we will never be able to sustain them on our own power and without God in the driver seat. Many Christians are confused about the notion of being nice. It is a good thing to be nice, right? Being nice is the way we imitate Christ’s love, right? Paul wrote this directive, right?
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4
The answer is, of course, we need to be nice! But being nice is not enough by itself! God wants us to be more than nice. He wants us to model Jesus Christ and let the Spirit of God flow through us to others. Our demeanor and acts of kindness must be contextualized around Christ. We are not to seek approval from others by being nice and getting people to like us. Our light is to shine among others in order to glorify God, not ourselves. Period.
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
We should always be nice to others, but look at how God sees it unfolding in our life and walk with him:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
My spiritual growth and service to others for God exploded when I stopped playing the Be Nice Game and concentrated on Christ and living out the fruits of his spirit: Love; Joy; Peace; Forbearance; Kindness; Goodness; Faithfulness; Gentleness; and Self-Control (Galatians 5:40).