Nice: Why we love to be liked and how God calls us to more
By Sharon Hodde Miller
I don’t think I’ve ever been described as a nice person.
I don’t say that to seek pity or to self-induce harshness upon myself, but truthfully, I am many things but nice isn’t one of them. In my youth, this got me into a lot of trouble but over time (and after coming to Christ) I have grown in wisdom, maturity, and spirituality.
You see, the reason no one would describe me as “nice” is because I tend to be open, honest, and vulnerable. I am a person who is prone to speak their mind (hence, the trouble I have found myself in in the past) but also, I am one who will fearlessly speak what is on my heart.
So when my latest book arrived to review, I was more intrigued by the tagline of its title rather than the title itself.
Nice: Why we love to be liked and how God calls us to more by Sharon Hodde Miller is a book I didn’t think I needed to read because its very theme is something I have never really struggled with. But friend, like usual, I was wrong! This is a book all people can relate to!
Yes, Nice is about the outward appearance and affection of niceness and it does cater to those who generalize themselves as people-pleasers, but Nice is so much more! The author, Sharon, describes niceness as both a false virtue in the world and a false idol within the church that drive individuals to pursue being a nice person and a nice Christian. Most people desire to be liked and accepted and being nice is not necessarily a bad thing but it can hinder true authenticity from being revealed. Niceness can both hide what is buried underneath (feelings, beliefs, emotions, heart-conditions) and hold us back from living out our full potential (our assigned purpose) as created in Christ.
To put it plainly Nice is not a nice or easy book to read. In fact, at times it comes across as mean but we are reminded that we (Christians) are not called to be nice. We are not supposed to be mean or rude by any means, but we are called to kindness, gentleness and love. Using biblical Truth as support, Sharon outlines how we can utilize the fruits of the Spirit along with Jesus’ own teachings and personal life as our example to combat the fake fruit of inauthenticity, the rotten fruit of corruption, the bitter fruit of cynicism and the bland fruit of cowardice. She then encourages the reader to grow a better a tree, so to speak, by embracing our God-designed originality, grounding our soul in biblical Truth, pruning the weak or unnecessary fruit we produce, and cultivating fruit that will sustain the weathering of the world.
Jesus was never nice, but He did live a life that reflected the powerful message He was sent to testify – God’s holy Truth. Jesus never wavered from His mission of speaking Truth and did so while being kind, gentle, compassionate, and patient. He always said what needed to be said regardless of how it made Himself look or how it made people feel, but also wrapped all of His words beautifully in love and grace. This, my friend, is how we are supposed to live as followers of Jesus – we are to follow in His footsteps while using His life as a model for our own.
Nice will certainly challenge your heart, your motives and your convictions. It will make you pull back the branches, examine your own fruit, and dig into the roots of your underlying soul. It will encourage you to be honest, courageous and bold in your faith and to practice what you study, believe, and know to be true. Speaking Truth is never fun or easy to do or to hear, but we are called to proclaim Truth in love and grace no matter the circumstance.
Friend, your purpose is so much more than being nice! You are invited to follow Jesus out on the water and explore the depths of God’s goodness and faithfulness. After you’ve read Nice: Why we love to be liked and how God calls us to more and have done some hard spiritual work and soul-searching, you will discover your faith has been made stronger and deeper rather than shallow and lukewarm. And that is definitely a nice feeling to experience! 🙂
* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review