One year on my birthday, my family decided to bless me by going around the table and sharing what they loved about me. Sounds wonderful right? I thought so too. Until I heard every single answer starting to sound the same: “Erika is just so nice…”
I walked away from that dinner table smack dab in the middle of a life-crisis. Completely overthinking and going straight into my head I said to myself, “Is this what people will say at my funeral…is this all people will remember about me…that I’m nice?!”
I wanted to be a Christian who stands up for her convictions, who lives with passion, who rises to fight the good fight! Somehow, “nice” didn’t fit into that description, and now I was left with a lot to think about.
This week Pastor Jason talked about the difference between being nice and displaying kindness as a fruit of the Spirit. Who knew, all these years later, I could finally get an explanation for why I felt so rotten that day!
You see, being nice isn’t really the goal of the Christian life. Like Pastor Jason said, being nice is “polite, pleasing, and agreeable.” It’s people pleasing. Ouch! Straight to the heart.
I am a people pleaser through and through. I like everyone around me to be comfortable and happy. I will go to great lengths to ensure that happens! But what do I end up with? As Pastor Jason put it, people who are “temporarily happy.” It’s always changing. Someone is always unhappy. Believe me, I live it every day.
So how do you and I show kindness, and not just niceness? What spoke the loudest to me this Sunday is what kindness is not. It is not self-seeking. It does not expect something in return. It does not want praise or admiration. It is not quiet, but courageous when something is not right.
How often am I the person who stands quietly as an inappropriate joke is told? Often.
How often am I the person who does a half-laugh because I don’t want to offend the joke-teller? Guilty.
Do you ever do the same? I’m realizing that being nice can actually get me into a lot of trouble. Maybe it’s getting you into trouble too.
Romans 12: 2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is — what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.”
Did you notice the word “pleasing” in there? As it turns out…we were made to please Someone. But just like anything else in our lives, we have the tendency to redirect to an idol. We please man instead of pleasing the God Who made us, Who loves us, Who champions our faith.
When all seems lost, and we think about the flesh that dwells within us and how we can’t possibly seem to remember or live out the fruit of the Spirit—we can cling to this truth: God is continuously, relentlessly, without pause, working to renew our minds and transform our lives so that we will walk by the Spirit. Whew, what a relief!
Would you join me as I pray this simple prayer?
God, I am here to confess that I am a people pleaser. I don’t want to be known as the nice girl. I want to be known as the Jesus girl. Please help me to stop living for others and start living for You. Give me the transformation You promise in this verse, and I pray that for my sweet friend reading this too. Transform us by Your Spirit. We need Your help; we want to live for You and You alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!