As I’ve matured with writing this blog, I’ve gained more clarity in terms of what it means to be loving and good as opposed to nice.
Nice is essentially a word that is used in our culture for “feel good.” When something is nice it makes you feel good about yourself. Or it makes you “feel loved” or “feel appreciated” or “feel whatever.”
Obviously, this is not what Christianity is about, and it’s not anything that is really attractive either. I don’t want to try to go around making people feel good about themselves when they’re not doing what is right or God forbid if they are doing what is wrong.
Thus, in this article I’m going to try to outline the major differences between what is “nice” versus what is “love” or “good.”
If I’m talking to another Christian and they’re talking about they’ve been skipping exercise because of ___ excuse or they’ve been skipping their Scripture reading and praying should I be saying something along the lines of:
- That’s ok you can always do it later, or
- That’s fine you were busy that time, or
- Hey you’ll do better next time, or
- It’s alright there were other more important things
Certainly not! I’m going to tease them or chastise them because you always make time for the things that are important to you. You’re just showing what your priorities are in this case.
I’m not going to give them some mindless platitudes to make them feel better about themselves when they’re not doing what is right and when they’re not doing what is good.
That is NICE but it is not LOVE.
Divorcing of actions and consequences
Husbands, in particular, often fall into this trap. A wife goes off and does her own thing, especially when she disagrees with a decision the husband has made.
Instead of saying, “that’s unfortunate… you made your bed so you’ll have to lie in it and clean up your mess” a husband will often clean up the mess that the wife made.
When this happens, no lesson is learned. The wife just learns either consciously or subconsciously that her actions have no consequences. “If my husband is going to clean up after me then I can basically do whatever I want including doing what he doesn’t want me to do because I can get off scot free.”
Likewise, if a wife constantly cleans up the messes of the husband instead of allowing him to experience the consequences they become lazy, entitled, stubborn, and unwilling to lift a finger to correct their own mistakes.
This is spoiled rich kid syndrome.
If people aren’t allowed to experience the consequences of their actions then they will become entitled, spoiled, and a horrible pain in the butt. All humans are susceptible to this.
We want to attempt to be loving by helping clean up the mess but instead we are “nice.” We don’t want feelings to get hurt because the other person, even spouse, made a mistake. So we clean up after them. However, this attempt at loving is not love but it is nice.
That is NICE but it is not LOVE.
Positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement
This is a big problem in the church. Say a wife is acting contentious or nagging or generally unpleasant to be around. What does the marriage ministries and whatnot say to do?
Of course, it’s do something nice for your wife! Buy her flowers, tell her how much you appreciate her, etc.
This is exactly the wrong answer. Should you be rewarding someone for unpleasant and sinful behavior? Should any husband reward his wife for her getting upset at him? Yet, this is what the church says to do.
Instead, if a wife is acting contentious it would be loving for the husband to say “hey, I don’t like being around you when you’re acting like this. I’m going to leave you alone to allow you to reflect on your poor behavior.”
What if Jesus gave positive reinforcement to His disciples when He saw them doing something wrong?
Mark 10:13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
Instead of Jesus chatising (negative reinforcement) His disciples here if He gave them positive reinforcement it would look something like this:
Book of Nice 10:13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He wanted to placate and said to them, “Don’t worry about these children 15 Truly I say to you, let’s go have a feast so you don’t feel angry anymore about these children coming here.” 16 And He took took aside His disciples and helped them get over their anger with food and drink to forget about the children who had angered them.
My main point with this is that both men and women are taught that they should be positive all of the time and negative reinforcement should not be used. This is incorrect. For as many times Jesus used rebukes and chastisement as the disciples so we are too in our relationships. This obviously ties back into responsibility and actions with consequences.
Positive reinforcement to a sinful action is NICE but it is not LOVE.
Accountability is basically holding other responsible for their actions and giving a righteous response. Accountability essentially sums up the previous 3 points, except we do it with other people.
The Scriptures affirm this multiple times:
Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins[k], go and [l]show him his fault [m]in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every [n]fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as [o]a Gentile and [p]a tax collector.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 [a]You have become [b]arrogant and [c]have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and [d]I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord [e]Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my [o]son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to [p]their faith. 20 [q]Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
Essentially, we are taught to keep each other accountable as Christians for sinful and poor behavior. We are to be above reproach as Christians.
However, it is often the case where Christian husbands, under the guise of love, actually reinforce poor behavior in their marriages. The same is true with wives living with non-faithful husbands.
This is also the troubling aspect that many men and women who are single fail to do in their Christian walk.
It’s often been the case that I’m sitting around in an area, and there are two people gossipping about other people around me. As a Christian I have an obligation to go over there and chastise them for gossipping and set them on the right path. Yet, I often don’t do this. I let my fear, my anxiety, my desire to not be confrontational, and the desire to not hurt people’s feelings to interfere with doing what is righteous and good.
I see many times where a wife is being disrespectful of her husband or where a husband is embittered toward his wife yet I don’t lift a finger.
This is the big problem we have in Christianity. Either we are too afraid to stand for what is righteous and good, or we don’t want to hurt other’s feelings, or we fear what other people may think of us. I pray for the ability to constantly overcome this because it is difficult but it is doable.
All of these different types of sentiments all tie into one another:
- Divorcing actions from consequences
- Positive reinforcement instead of negative inforcement
These are common mistakes that nice men and women make because they think it is loving to be nice when in reality what they are doing is not love, nor good, nor right.
This is a warped view of “love” that we have in our feminized culture. “Love” in churchianity is always something that is going to make someone feel good. However, we know that love is not what makes someone feel good, but instead is about spurring those around us towards doing what is good and right.
It is never love — and thus never what is good and right — to excuse others for their poor behavior. Remember,
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is [h]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [i]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
It is an inevitability that all [true] Christians love or at least don’t hate to be taught and trained in righteousness. However, what is lacking from churchianity is that we have eliminated correction and reproof.
The cult of nice is about making people feel better. When you’re about making people feel better about themselves rather than doing what is righteous and good, correction and reproof/rebuke silently fade into the night never to be seen.
Correction and reproof require confrontation. Christian husbands and wives and those aspiring to be Christian husbands and wives ABSOLUTELY NEED to force themselves to grow comfortable with confrontation. It is in the confrontation of our weaknesses and faults and subsequent actions to repent and continue on a different path that direct us to grow into mature Christians.
Every time we let things slide we end up being nice. And being nice is neither loving, nor good, nor righteous. Nor will it garner respect because you don’t stand up for what you believe. You become wishy washy and lukewarm. Like nice guys.