Sometimes being nice is hard work. I learned this many times when I worked in customer service. I have had countless customers who have been rude to me, who have blamed me for things that were outside of my control, and who used me as a convenient subject to vent their own frustrations. In these situations, being nice can be an act of strength and courage. It takes character and grit to withstand a barrage of verbal abuse and respond with generosity.
There are other times, however, when wanting to be nice can be a dangerous and cowardly thing.
Have you ever heard a racist comment and remained silent because you didn’t want to ruin a “nice” time? Have you ever felt like someone in your life needed some critical feedback about an action or behavior, but chose to say silent because it wouldn’t be “nice”?
In these cases, being nice is less about making others feel at ease and more about helping you hide from doing what is good and right.If being nice prevents us from saying and doing the right things, it is no longer a virtue but a vice.
Scripture is filled with men and women who were not nice because they were good. Consider the prophet Jeremiah who risked his own life by calling the leaders in his day to repent, Nathan who confronted David about his sins, or Esther who confronted Haman on his plan to kill her people.
Even Jesus confronted the money changers in the temple and the Pharisees with words that were far from “nice.” Let’s open our hearts to have the courage to be nice when it is called for and to move beyond nice when the need arises too.
Questions of the Day
- When has being nice been a virtue in your life? When has it been a vice?
- What are some ways that you might be called to move beyond being nice this week?