Wikipedia offers the following description of a nice guy. It reads,
“A nice guy is an informal term for a teenage or adult male who is gentle, compassionate, sensitive and/or vulnerable. The term is used both positively and negatively. When used positively, and particularly when used as a self-descriptor, it is intended to imply a male who puts the needs of others before his own, avoids confrontations, does favors, gives emotional support, tries to stay out of trouble, and generally acts nicely towards others. In the context of a relationship, it may also refer to traits of honesty, loyalty, romanticism, courtesy and respect. When used negatively, a nice guy implies a male who is unassertive, does not express his true feelings…”
As for the first sentence, I think we would all agree on this. Jesus described Himself as being “gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29 ESV). However, we might begin to stumble when we think of our Lord as someone who avoided confrontations and tried to stay out of trouble. I believe quite the opposite was true. Just think about the occasion where Jesus healed the demon possessed man who had been naked and had lived in a cemetery of sorts for a very long time (cf. Lk 8:26-39). After Jesus had permitted those demons to enter the pigs instead, the owners of the “suicidal” swine did not want to see Jesus there any longer.
And what about Jesus’ honesty? Of course, He was always honest because He was without sin! However, does honesty hurt at times? Oh, yes, it does! Yet the truth must hurt us sometimes, even deeply, so that we see we need to be changed into the image of Christ. We cannot stay as we are and continue in our old carnal ways if we want to ever enter by the narrow gate. The narrow gate is narrow because our old self is too “fat” to get in there. It must have died before we can enter with the humble mind of Christ.
What do we know about Jesus’ loyalty? No one was more loyal than Jesus was, that is for sure, but He was first and foremost loyal toward God, not toward man, not even regarding his own family. His family did not consist of those who were his relatives after the flesh unless they did the will of His father in heaven (see Mt 12:49-50). Here we have the big difference between the nice guy and Jesus Christ. Our Lord is THE TRUTH and we can trust in Him to have always told the truth to everyone, though in love.
As for me regarding my natural old self, I have always been the “nice girl”, the people pleaser who never wanted to offend anyone. How so? I behaved that way in order to be loved myself by everyone, something which, of course, never worked. Nonetheless, I tried and tried… and I failed and failed, that is, I was never loved by everyone whatever I had tried to change that. Tcha, what a misery! 😦 Thinking about our Lord once again, at times it seemed He was loved by the whole people since they got from Him what they had longed for and needed (forgiveness of sins, healing of their sicknesses, freedom from their demons etc. pp.). They rejoiced, “Hallelujah, what a wonderful God!” But alas, as He did not give them always what they wanted – namely He refused to become a Jewish king who ruled over them and freed them from the cruel Roman Empire – the same people who had seemingly loved Him, wanted to see Him dead on the cross. Why so? Because our Lord and God refused to serve their old selves; instead He wanted to free them from their old nature to which they could only die by believing in Him and receiving His Spirit later. Actually, Jesus was anything but a people pleaser. Here are only a few examples.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Mt 7:6 ESV)
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Mt 7:11 ESV)
And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Mt 15:22-26 ESV)
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mt 16:21-23 ESV)
Well, our Lord compared human beings with dogs and pigs. He knew what was in their hearts and therefore He called them evil. How seemingly unfriendly to call one of his best friends ‘Satan’ at that. Have you ever thought how embarrassed and humiliated Peter might have felt afterwards? Before he had received such a great revelation about Jesus being the Messiah and then THIS happened. My dear brothers and sisters, the Lord I have come to know over the years has dealt the same way with me. I cannot count how often He challenged and provoked me in order to make the dark spots inside me seen by myself too. Although He has always loved me, He did not caress me during those times when He wanted to change another ugly habit He hated to see because it belonged to my old nature. And that also refers to people pleasing. If we hope we can be best friends forever with every Christian although we do not listen to the same Lord – there is only ONE who makes us of one heart and mind – then we have stopped listening to the voice of the ONE who called us. Most certainly, the first Christians were not persecuted because they had been so nice. Instead, they were a living offense to those who had decided to hold on to their (godless) religious views without having a true relationship with our Father through Jesus Christ.
The path we are on is very narrow. The longer we have walked on it and the more we have come to know our Lord and God, the less people will be by our side. Not that long ago, this evening to be precise, Michael Clark in one of his last comments on my latest blog post inspired me by pasting a particular Scripture. Here is the whole reference of which I think it clarifies what I have just stated in this last paragraph.
He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time. (Dan 11:32-35 ESV)
If we deal with one another, dear brothers and sisters, it is not about flattery. It is primarily about honesty, and about speaking the truth in love. Always loving, yes, but the truth hurts at times as I said above. May our Lord and God guide us to speak the truth in love. Always. Amen.