I never thought I’d be writing on this topic but here I am, doing just that. The issue came up today and has crossed my mind fleetingly on previous occasions. Having started to put my thoughts down on the subject today though, it quickly turned into an Article.
Now the term “nice” is considered a common, every day word. It is regularly used and most people think they know what it means. Most people also like to think of themselves as nice people, even if they’re not and they can get quite offended if people think of them as otherwise.
It is important to note at this juncture, that being nice is not something that is exclusive to only Christians. It is not an exclusive Christian virtue. Being a nice person ( and by this, I mean by our human earthly standards, not God’s) is not reserved to just those who know the Lord and have relationship with him. The fact of the matter is that there are nice people in Christendom but there are nice people in the world as well. Sad to say, sometimes, some people in the world behave better and are more kind than some people who profess Christianity.
It must be noted though, that being a nice person outside of Christ avails one nothing. For, no matter how nice a person is according to human standards, this is not enough and will never be enough to save him or her from God’s wrath. This is because all of that niceness still falls woefully short of God’s divine and thrice holy standard of righteousness, which is perfection.
That level of perfection, is found in only one person and that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God the Son. He is not just nice but perfectly righteous and so, given that our best works are as filthy rags in God’s sight, God invites all human beings (those who consider themselves to be nice and even those that don’t), to come to Jesus Christ in faith, to accept him as Lord and Saviour. The invitation is free and without discrimination. The Lord does not ask to see your Resume or Repertoire of achievements before he accepts you. He does not care how nice a person you think you have been throughout the years or whether you failed the niceness test, like Zacheus, in the Bible. He invites all to come because salvation is not earned. It is not dependent on how good or bad we have been or tried to be but on the finished work of Jesus Christ, where he died for the sins of the world, shed his precious blood as an atonement and was raised from the dead on the third day, triumphing over sin and death.
Whosoever accepts the invitation, gets to be covered not in their works but in Jesus’ perfect righteousness and in so doing, they get to be saved, made regenerate, born again, redeemed and partakers of an internal inheritance.
Romans 10:9-13 extends the universal invitation which is applicable to all. It says:
- “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Having said that, when it comes to this whole issue of “nice”, there are of course, different standards depending on whether a person is a Christian (regenerate) or not. Christians are held to a higher level of expectation when it comes to how they are to conduct themselves and as a matter of fact, the Bible calls on all Christians to be nice, not just some. It is their duty.
Whereas nice Christians know their God though, have relationship with him through his Son Jesus Christ and therefore, consider in all their operations, that they are accountable to him, nice people in the world do not. They will have a conscience, a sense of right and wrong and some even have regard for religion and the God of heaven but they do not know him personally, do not have the enlightenment that he brings to the heart and life through his Spirit and therefore, on many matters, sadly, they will be skewed in their judgment and decisions. As nice as they think they are and may be, they are blinded by the god of this world which is the devil and so, they will sometimes look at evil and think it is good and look at good and think it is evil.
Having said that and having made the distinction between the nice person in the world and the nice Christian in the body of Christ, in my opinion (and you may differ in your view), a nice person (although we are all filthy, have selfish, bad, sinful ways and are in desperate need of the Saviour, both before we accept him as Lord and Saviour and after) is someone who wants to do right by people, in the sight of God and in the sight of man. Even if man is not seeing, this person wants to do what is right in the sight of God, for conscience sake. He is generally kind, compassionate, caring, considerate of others, to a large extent selfless and aims every day to be fair to all people, to treat them with dignity, to give them respect and to operate with integrity in all of his dealings.
When he fails at times in doing this (because he is imperfect) and it has been brought to his attention, he does not make excuses to justify his wrong, deny it, retaliate, insult the person who brought it to his attention, ignore what he has said, take the position that he is not sorry and that he does not care about what he did or the hurt it inflicted or how it affected or impacted the other person or others. Instead, he is ashamed, feels bad, accepts responsibility, admits that he’s wrong (even if it is to himself), tries hard to make a mental note not to repeat the behaviour again and may even ask God (if he knows him) for help to change any way that is offensive or regarded as offensive to others.
Even when what he has done is not brought to his attention, when he has done wrong, he does not walk around without a care in the world and as if he did nothing. What he has done, especially if it hurt other people, bothers him and he grieves about it, even if no one but God sees it. In short, he is sorry when he messes up and wants to badly set things right again, trying his best not to repeat his actions.
In other words, a nice person desires to right all wrongs that he has caused or contributed to in some way, whether deliberately or inadvertently and cares about the pain that his actions have caused others. A person who is not nice is not interested in righting wrongs and does not care if his actions hurt others. Indeed, some people who are not nice are happy that their actions caused pain. That was often times, the intention and so they are satisfied and take pleasure (even if only expressed internally), that their actions resulted in that outcome.
On the whole, a nice person is not perfect but he is noble in character. Integrity is one of his hallmarks. No matter the situation or who may or may not be watching, he aims to do what is right. He does not live a double life, showing one face to the public and another at home. People may not know everything about him, he may have problems and issues like everyone else and he may be private but what you see is generally what you get. He has the same character inside and outside the home, whether a crowd is watching or no one is watching.
A nice person seeks to honour God and honour man. He is gracious, merciful and prone to forgive (even when sometimes it may take some time to process and deal with). He is not nice to some and nasty to others. He is careful to avoid making some people feel welcomed, cared for and loved and some unwelcome, uncared for and rejected.
Whenever a person divides people into two categories of treatment, those to be treated nicely and those to be treated with scant curtesy or scorn, it reveals his real hue: He is not a nice person. A nice person does not discriminate in his treatment of people due to any reason but aims to treat everybody in the same dignified, respectful and kind manner, knowing that every human being, from the President to the vagrant on the streets, is a human being created equal by the Creator, God. He does not dismiss people simply because he does not understand them or because they are not similar in personality and likes, to him. For example, if he is outgoing and extroverted, he does not dismiss someone because they are the opposite.
A nice person does nice things for others without any expectation of return. He does not do something nice and then hold the recipients to ransom or expect some favour from them or that they will give him adulation because of what he has done. He does kind deeds and often times forgets what he did and all the people that he blessed because he does not keep a record and being kind is his lifestyle. Rebecca in the Bible and the Shunnammite woman who added more room to her home to accommodate Elisha the prophet whenever he passed by are examples of nice people, who did things from their heart, without any expectation of reward. Of course, God saw to it that they were rewarded beyond their wildest dreams but they did not do what they did to get anything in return.
A nice person does not seek to hoodwink, deceive, manipulate, use, control, insult, suppress, accuse, provoke and attack people. He does not capitalize on people’s situations or exploit the weak. He does not pick a fight for picking a fight sake or because he is in a mood or because he wants to take someone down a peg. In fact, he hates argument, drama and contention and seeks to avoid it, although sometimes he may find himself embroiled in it. He is peace loving, not drama creating. Even when he has been provoked and occasionally loses his temper due to harassment, a nice person desires peace and always wants to restore that peace equilibrium in all of his relationships.
He does not make comments like, “My blood just does not take to that person”, meaning that he just doesn’t like someone, even if he doesn’t know why. He aims to love everybody, even the difficult, even those who are different from himself and if he knows the Lord as Saviour, asks him for patience and grace for those who he may find to be very annoying or troublesome. His loving everyone of course, does not mean that he condones anything that God has labelled as sin, in his Word. If he is a Christian, then whatever God has called sin, he accepts as sin and hates whatever he hates. However, while he may hate people’s sinful way and speak out in love about it (because he cares about the eternal destiny of people who are on the path to destruction), he loves the people that God created.
He goes around in life, seeking the welfare not just of himself but of others. He is not a walkover or a doormat and he can get tired but he is generous in heart and kind.
He will not lie to people and tell them what they want to hear for peace sake though but he will tell the truth if it is necessary, even if people are hurt by it. He does not just think of what he can get from society but what he can give to it, how he can enrich people’s lives and what he can do to help them. When he engages in philanthropic acts, it is not to bolster any image or to be perceived in the eyes of others in a certain way. It is not done with selfish, self-serving ulterior motives or to get attention or for show but because he is passionate about helping others, genuinely cares about uplifting people and loves to do it. He may have his limits and boundaries to which he will help (as he is not a doormat) and there are times when he will say no to people’s requests but he generally loves to reach out to people and help where he perceives there is a real need and he can do something about it.
A nice person does not do some nice things to compensate for nasty behaviour. He does not take the view that because I am doing this and that, I deserve a pass for some nasty way or behaviour or that way should be accepted without complaint or disagreement. For example, a nice person does not conduct his business dishonestly and then expect that because he gives copious amounts to charity, to the less fortunate and to the Church, that this makes his dishonesty okay and that he does not need to repent of it.
On the whole, a nice person is just that: nice. He aims to be a blessing to others, not a troublemaker, suppresser, controller or one that causes grief. He does not go around delighting in people’s pain, searching for information on people’s mishaps and seeking opportunities to rub it in further. When people mess up he does not regard them condescendingly, rush to point condemning fingers at them, give them the cold treatment and think of himself as better or more righteous than them but considers if there is some way that he can be used to set things right.
If he should occasionally find himself rejoicing in other people’s mishaps (because the flesh is there within him and sometimes, he gives in to it), he knows that this is not good and feels ashamed of such behaviour. He does not set out to hurt people and does not put down others with his words and actions and then feel great about it and move on, as if he did nothing. If he hurt people, if he’s been a jerk, it bothers him and he is sorrowful over it. If he can make amends, he does and each day, he is not in competition with others but is trying to be better than the person he was yesterday.
In closing, having pointed out what a nice person is, it is important to avoid the pitfalls that many people make, where they assume that because of certain circumstances, that a person is a nice person. For example:
1) Not because someone is demure, quiet, soft spoken and shy, does it mean that he is a nice person.
It has been proven that some of the worst psychopaths who committed the worst crimes and were the most abusive were quiet, shy and reserved people. As the saying goes, quiet waters run deep.
I will never recall how a seemingly friendly, quiet, shy, soft-spoken and well-mannered lady, once tried to implicate me in something unethical at work, in order to get herself off the hook. Many years my senior, she was on the verge of retirement and wanted to ensure that she protected herself in something shady that she had done with certain funds. She therefore hatched an idea and wrote to me on a file to make it seem as if I had been involved in the fiasco or approved a certain pay-out that she had advised certain persons to make. The truth of the matter was, that I had advised against it and then went on holiday and this ‘quiet’ woman seized the opportunity then to do the opposite of what I had advised. Knowing it was wrong and wanting no skeletons in her closet when enjoying her retirement, she conjured up an evil plan to frame me it seemed, although I was innocent, to ensure that she would not be implicated, although she was guilty.
Of course, having ‘doctored’ the file, she never sent it to me, it seemed, as she did not want me to get wind of what she had done. Had there not been a God in heaven, I probably would have never found out. My God though, knowing what was on the file, somehow caused it to be brought to the desk of a new CEO, the issue caught her attention and she sent the file to me for a report on what was written in it. Imagine my shock and dismay! I was so thankful to God for protecting me, even when I did not know I needed protection. I got the opportunity to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and did so in a lengthy written report.
2) Not because someone comes from a good, upstanding family, is religious, goes to Church and even participates in ‘ministry’, including preaching, does it mean that he is a nice person.
I will never forget how shocked everyone felt when a particular individual got married to a lady we knew and then, apparently was unfaithful in the marriage. He came from a decent, seemingly godly family and was up and about in the ministry at Church. Yet, a few years into the marriage, his true colours began to show and that marriage went kapunt.
As the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. This is so true.
I actually know of two men who preach so powerfully and movingly wherever they go and are so knowledgeable about the Word, that it is assumed by people generally, that they must be super spiritual and that they must be nice people. However, the opposite is true. Truth be told, one is quite selfish, inconsiderate and self-centred, while the other is far worse. He has been involved in secretly adulterous dealings and as far as I know is not at all repentant.
At the end of the day, you ought not to let exterior paraphernalia fool you therefore. Don’t jump to conclusions. Take the time to find out who the person really is on the inside.
3) Not because someone has a good job, money in the bank, is ambitious and hard working, does it mean that he is a nice person.
Possessions are never a measure of a man’s character. A person could have lots of money and be a crook. He could be ambitious to the point where he is willing to do dishonest things to get ahead or to sacrifice any person in his path up the career ladder.
If we allow the bright lights of possessions to deceive us into thinking that someone must be a nice person, we will smart for our naivety later on. There are many rich, hardworking and ambitious people that are horrible individuals, that care about nobody but themselves and that idolise work, getting ahead and making money.
4) Not because someone does a whole lot of kind deeds and seems to be a person of good character, does it mean that that person is a nice person.
People have different reasons for doing things and sad to say, some people have ulterior motives. Some narcissists for example are great actors and do a lot of things that are considered good but they do it for show, to project a false image or as a manipulating or controlling tool. They know that if they do nice things, people will think that they are nice people and not probe their true character any further. In short, all the nice things they do or most of it is self-serving and not at all for a noble purpose.
5) Not because someone is good looking, handsome or pretty, does it mean that that person is a nice person and that he has good character, morals and believes in and lives by honourable principles.
Hollywood alone should bring this truth to the fore. People tend to think that if the exterior is attractive, that the interior must be as well but sometimes, a person can have it together on the outside and the inside be a mess.
People tend to like to see shiny exteriors and to jump to the conclusion that a good looking person means a good soul but this may not necessarily be the case. As God stated to the Prophet Samuel who himself had made that very mistake, “…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). Indeed, some of the people with the worst tempers and poorest characters are the most beautiful or handsome to look at. While it is possible to have both, good looks do not always translate into good character.
(Written around the 6th and 10th October, 2022, added to on 7th November, 2022)
- Note 41 – ‘In Me Dwelleth No Good Thing’
- Note 172 – ‘Are You Trying To Establish Your Own Righteousness?’
Additionally, under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ page:
- Note 82 – ‘Trying To Be The Best You Can Is Not Enough – Jesus Is The Answer’
- Note 237 -‘Why Your Good Deeds/Works Are Not Enough To Earn You A Space In Heaven’