Why we believe it will
In the south, and especially in the church, there is a mantra passed down among the generations of women-
It’s meant for ANY and ALL occasions.
No matter what happens, it is the sweet southern girl’s answer to whatever she faces.
But then we run into a problem with someone and our usual response of being nice doesn’t seem to be working as well as expected. We try harder, thinking maybe extra “nice” is required. But still, the conflict doesn’t get resolved. We begin to feel frustrated over why we can’t be treated fairly.
But what can a “nice” girl do?
This can happen with our husbands, co-workers, bosses, friends…..anyone really.
We are taught from an early age not to “rock the boat” or cause any pushback from offenses or accusations. Confrontation is viewed unnecessary and “ugly”.
We ARE allowed to “stew” all we want.😳🙄
Even rage inside of ourselves or gossip about it to others.😔
But what we are not supposed to do is CONFRONT.
And this just isn’t Christlike!
What WAS Christ like?
Blogging through the gospels this year is teaching me so much about Christ, and frankly, it is surprising me in many regards. One of the most notable lessons I am learning is how often Jesus was criticized, condemned or accused. Considering the numerous times He received negative feedback, when He was actively loving others, makes me pay attention to how He responded to these moments.
We can all relate to feeling negativity from others, but to examine and learn from the Son of God’s reactions to such experiences is too valuable to miss.
He has been my hero for a long time, but recently I am learning more of what it cost Him to be who He is to a lost world, as in Mark 3:1-6.
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Why was He in conflict?
This scene wasn’t at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, during what we may think is part of His last days on earth before He was crucified. It was at the beginning!
From the get-go, Jesus received trouble for actions and attitudes.
With pure motives, He sought to make the most of His 3-year ministry, from age 30 to 33. One of the ways He ministered to His people was by healing them. Oftentimes, this occurred on the Sabbath.
Granted, God’s Law said in Exodus 20:8-11 that there was to be no work on this particular day, only rest. But Jesus did not view healing as “work” violating this commandment. As seen in the above passage, He tried to explain how this commandment was to be properly understood.
How did others respond?
This, of course, was not received well by those in charge of religious affairs for the people. They sought to condemn and control Jesus because they did not want to lose their positions of authority in their culture. They even went as far as to begin plotting His death because He conflicted with the societal norms of their religious control. The irony that their murder of Jesus would be a violation God’s Law in Exodus 20:13 was lost on them it seems.
The fact that Christ chose not to ignore their actions or intent flies in the face of what some may believe is appropriate, then and now. Jesus did not play along with their cultural control. He determined that more was called for than just being nice. He chose instead to confront what was truly inappropriate. To just “be nice” was not going to solve the larger problem, although it may have temporarily alleviated the tension at hand.Jesus chose to confront what was truly inappropriate and what shouldn't be condoned. Click To Tweet
I learn several lessons from this exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders.
6 Lessons from Jesus
1) Jesus was courageous.
He was no coward as He refused to bow to their intimidation. He did not let “them” choose for Him what He should do. They were looking for a reason to accuse Him and He obliged them. Christ did not heal the man in private but openly asked him to get up in front of everyone. By doing so, Jesus refuted their aggressive attitudes/behavior.
2) Jesus chose to confront others, at times, to stand up against a greater wrong.
He was not going to be silenced into cooperating/condoning what was wrong. Choosing to stand up for what was right at His own personal expense meant more than keeping the peace. He understood that by complying with what was wrong makes us complicit to it. Silence is ultimately equal to cooperation.Silence is ultimately equal to cooperation. Click To Tweet
3) Jesus sought to interject truth, not opinion, to clarify the circumstances.
He was not interested in arguments but sought truth and love as the overall foundation for interacting with others. He was passionate about both equally because both bring balance to society and personal relationships. Christ loved the man with the shriveled hand enough to heal him and He loved the religious leaders enough to confront them with the truth concerning their wrong behavior.
4) Jesus was upset but not sinful.
The Bible states that Christ was angry and deeply distressed but He was not overly emotional or ugly. It is not sinful to become upset or disagree with others but we are expected to remain self-controlled like Jesus exampled. A calm demeanor is advantageous when trying to resolve issues with others. God gives clear guidance in Matthew 18:15-17 on how to Biblically resolve conflict. Just because Jesus sought to confront others did not mean He wasn’t being loving.
5) Jesus sought to cooperate but was unwilling to acquiesce.
Christ tried to use an analogy to shed light on the issue at hand but recognized when there was no progress to be made. He then moved on with adjusted expectations.
6) Jesus recognized He did not need their validation of what He understood as “right”.
Ultimately, Jesus was aware that only God gave the determination of what was right and good, not “man”. So He was willing to rest in that as His governing rule for His choices. It did not matter if He was understood by others or misunderstood. As long as Jesus was doing right by God’s standards, that was enough.
Why this matters
There are so many times where “being nice” is exactly what is called for and it works miracles. Offering grace and mercy glorify God immensely and it is the ultimate expression of Christ crucified.
Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
But there are other times, as we see in the life of Jesus, and as I have seen in my own life, where courage and accountability are what is most needed. We can “be nice” till the end of time, but it won’t change all our situations for the better. By standing up for what is right in the eyes of God, even if it isn’t condoned by “man”, we are glorifying His name more than if we just continue to silently suffer.
…..in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 56:11
What will cost the most?
When we are unable to confront others, we become unable to love them in their best interest. This kind of love is agapeo love and it is self-sacrificing, meaning it comes at a cost.
But ultimately, don’t we pay an even greater cost if we choose not to confront? When does lack of accountability ever work for the greater good over time?
Being a “doormat” does not glorify God, nor does it help others, or render us emotionally healthy in the long run.
Sometimes, “being nice” isn’t as Christlike as when we are confronting those who need it.