The Importance of Being Nice

Originally published Friday, 31 August 2018.

Being nice is such a rare quality that when we run into it, we are shocked. Yet as Christians we are called to be nice, to be light in a dark world, to help those who need help and to do it from a place of love. Part of being nice is to do a good deed and not expect anything in return.

Now I'm using nice because that's a word that everyone can relate to; nice seems better than good. Nice implies that you go the extra mile. Nice is just nice.

On a recent road trip, we were genuinely surprised by the niceness of strangers. I don't know about you, but for us, whenever we take a road trip, we hope and pray nothing goes wrong. As a precaution, we did a general checkup on our car to ensure it was ready for the road.  We started on our trip, and everything was going fine until we had to conquer this massive hill (elevation 2000 ft), which was when our car gave out. It died right there in the middle lane. We were able to navigate off the road and call AAA. It so happens this particular stretch of road claims a lot of cars, so when we pulled over, we were right behind a sheriff assisting another vehicle.

So far nothing nice and all the makings for a disastrous trip.

AAA eventually came after an hour. The car was towed, and we all rode in the tow truck. The driver of the tow truck was charming. He told us how he drives up and down that hill all day, never afraid. We drove up the hill then down the hill and exited at the nearest town with a mechanic. By this time it's the end of the day. However the mechanics did not rush us; they took the time to inspect, diagnose and provide solutions. The transmission was gone which is an expensive and time-consuming repair. So now we were officially without a car. The mechanics also assisted with helping us find a rental car and then drove us to the car rental location for pickup.

As we were driving, I wondered why I was so genuinely surprised by the niceness of the mechanics and the tow truck driver. The answer struck me - it's because we're not used to people being nice to us for no reason at all. We always think there's an ulterior motive, or that someone will take advantage of us. This world is harsh, but these circumstances made me realize that I need to work on being nice, consistently. As Christians, we are encouraged to be nice - it's a way of reaching others and letting our light shine.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?  

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)

Are you genuinely nice? Do you expect something in return for being nice? Does being unappreciated stop you from being nice?