Can we be too nice?
Yes, I think we can. By that, I am certainly not implying that we should abandon all common courtesy to become rude, insensitive idiots. I am saying that we miss important God moments because we are too nice.
“WHAT???” you ask (well, actually you yelled a little).
Let me tell you a story. Or two.
Story #1: Once upon a Sunday, a young woman decided to confide in a friend, an older woman from her church. The young woman was having difficulties in her marriage and she thought that her friend would be the perfect one to offer some advice. The older woman did exactly that, gave a few suggestions, hugged the younger woman and promised to pray for her. Two weeks later, the young couple separated.
Story #2: Once upon another Sunday, a teenage boy sat in the back row of the church – sullen, arms crossed and obviously bored. He was there only because his parents forced him. The youth leader had repeatedly invited the boy to join their group, but the response was usually a shrug and grunt. The leader and his band of teens prayed for the boy on a weekly basis, and were saddened to learn that he had committed suicide.
These stories may be extreme (or not), but in both cases prayer was going up for the ones who needed it. The Christians did what they were supposed to, right? So what happened?
Here’s my opinion: Neither the older woman or the youth leader recognized a God moment – or if they did, they didn’t take immediate action.
I know, because this used to be me. I was the one promising to pray for the woman with a trouble marriage, and I was the one inviting the outcast. But I missed the boat because I was too nice to stop right there and pray for the young woman or the teenage boy on the spot. I wanted to spare them the discomfort and embarrassment of an “out loud” prayer right there where other people might be within earshot. Or, let’s be honest, maybe I wanted to spare myself.
Perhaps the two situations would have ended the same way, even with the right-here-right-now prayer. But what if they didn’t?
What if, because you halted in your tracks and took their hands and petitioned the Father on their behalf, the lives of these two people changed? What if others heard you praying and came to join their prayers with yours to intercede? What if the whole church gathered around these lost and discouraged souls and held them up to the Lord together? What if you didn’t give a rip about being nice, and approached both the woman and the boy with some much needed words of wisdom, exhortation, and unconditional love?
Often, in our efforts to be nice, we pass over encounters that can and will change lives. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to butt in where we think we have no business. We don’t want other people to think we’re weird religious fanatics.
But do you think that when people came to Jesus with their problems, he patted them on the head, said he’d pray for them, and told them to run along? Absolutely not! He dropped everything, even when it was inconvenient, and dealt with the issue immediately.
Look for the opportunities, the God moments. They are all over the place. The more often you stop your ridiculously busy life, the more you will see.
And stop being so nice! Someone’s eternity may depend on you.