nice…or loving with the truth?

nice

‘Nice’ is such a limp word.

‘He was a really nice guy’.

‘Her mom is one of the nicest ladies that you’d ever want to meet’.

‘They were a really nice couple’.

‘They are one of the nicest families in town’.

I hate the word nice.  I may have ranted about this before and if I have, it’s time to do it again.  ‘Nice’ isn’t a word found in the Bible.  My dictionary defines ‘nice’ as ‘pleasant and agreeable’.  That is the last thing that I want on my tombstone.  ‘He was really nice.’  I don’t want to be know as ‘a nice guy’ or worse yet ‘a super nice guy’.  The word ‘nice’ makes me want to hurl. Being nice usually lacks integrity.  The pastor goes to the home for the elderly and smiles a lot for the mixed bag of saints and sinners that come to hear his twenty minute talk.  When he leaves everybody talks about what a nice pastor he is and what a nice message he brought. Nice lacks teeth.  Nice is so weak and so lame and so easy to forget.  Nice doesn’t say what needs to be said.

We’re in a second parter today.  We started on the seventh mark of a healthy church two days ago when we looked at formal discipleship and today we are going to talk about informal discipleship. We informally disciple others in the body when we say hard things in love that need to be said.  Believers can be so pretentious to a person’s face but when they get out of ear shot the truth comes out.  Does being nice really help anyone?  Sure it helps the individual who is nice to stay safe and not have the waters of their lives ruffled by loving someone enough to truth them but is safety the goal of our lives?  Should not the glory of God in the church be our goal?  Let me say that God gets no glory when we are nice.  As I read the gospels I see moments of tough Jesus and tender Jesus but I never see nice Jesus.

[6] Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
(Proverbs 27:6 ESV)

If the church of Jesus Christ is to be about discipleship we need to stop being nice. Say that sister ShaNaynay has a temper tantrum over something that wasn’t to her liking.  Many of us would try to smooth things over but is that about love or is that about not making waves?  Temper tantrums do not honour the Lord and it shows a lack of self-control, a fruit of the Spirit. Private ministry happens when sister LaFonda goes to ShaNaynay and lovingly tells her that she is out of bounds.  I need this.  We need this.  Nice says I don’t care about your soul and about God’s glory and I am so about self-protection and not getting my hands dirty.  Genuine Christian love has God’s glory and the person’s good on their radar.  This is hard between a husband and wife in the household but you tell them because you love them…then you add a few kids to the mix and it can be hard with them but you do it out of love.  Now multiply that by the number of families in your church!  It’s hard, but it’s good…and it’s biblical.

[15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)

This verse says the body is to be moving in a certain direction, toward Christlikeness…and you don’t arrive there by nice.  Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit but niceness isn’t. Are we to be kind?  Absolutely.  Tender-hearted?  Yes.  Loving?  You betcha.  Nice?  No way. You may be misunderstood for speaking the truth in love.  You may be seen as judgemental.  You may be seen as hypocritical.  You may be seen as offensive.  And you might be one or all of those…and you may not be. This speaking the truth in love thing is serious business but you are empowered to do it by the gospel.  It’s part of private ministry.  It’s our calling.

Suppose a church genuinely sought to do this and it might really sting the first few times.  It may be so foreign to you and the first time someone does it to you it really hurts.  You may feel like you just went through the spanking machine.  The church is to be about people correcting you and me.  Some people may leave your church over it and some may stay and mature in their faith through this and over time this truth-telling in love, this private ministry, becomes the norm in church world.  The slow road to growth is seen in your church where truth telling in love is becoming your DNA over the years and over the decades.  Don’t misunderstand me, this is so not about being mean and blasting someone.  Some people have absolutely no tack and know nothing about timing. Sometimes people set aside a day to pray before they confront someone in love.  You put yourself at risk when you do things like this but we need to be risky when our great God’s reputation and our growth is at stake.

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