Romans 12:9-21 gives a list of qualities that every Christian ought to exemplify. It is important to be nice.
There is a danger. The desire to be nice can morph into a need to be liked, which means we will not do or say anything that could be taken as being offensive. This means we become compromisers. We don’t stand up for what is true and we don’t warn people of danger they are in. Instead of wanting to have a good Christian character in order to honour the Lord and back up our gospel witness, we just want people to think well of us. That isn’t loving the Lord or our neighbour – it’s just loving ourselves.
This attitude then becomes a weapon to beat other Christians who do take a stand. “You shouldn’t be so judgmental – it’s bad for the testimony. It’s not Christ-like!” It seems by many people’s standards, Christ wasn’t Christ-like. He did confront sin and call out hypocrisy, and stood rock-solid against the crowd, and at times said things that were very offensive. So, if your standard of niceness condemns the Lord (and His apostles) then your standard might need to be adjusted.
Again, this isn’t a call for Christians to be brash bullies. It is just a call for us to reconcile ourselves to the fact that the world is in rebellion against the Lord, and if we stand with the Lord then the world will have a problem with us, no matter how nice we are. There are some people who cannot be placated. If you believe people need Christ, then you are a narrow-minded bigot – no matter how nice you are; if you believe marriage is between a man and a woman, then you are an intolerant hater – no matter how nice you are; if you believe it’s wrong to kill babies in the womb, then you are a misogynistic oppressor – no matter how nice you are. With people like this, the only way to have them think you’re a nice person is to reject those beliefs and anyone who holds them. That’s not an option.
If people don’t like us because we are horrible people, then that is our problem. If people don’t like us because we believe what God’s Word says and stand for it, then that is their problem.
So, our manner of life and our personal dealings with people should leave them in no doubt that we are nice people. But we won’t hide our light, compromise our beliefs, ignore God’s Word or deny our Lord in a desperate bid to make everyone like us.
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
– 1 Peter 4:15-16