Nice is NOT a Fruit of the Spirit!
Hey, that sounds sacrilegious! But let me ask you this, how many times have you stuffed the truth in order to be nice? It was a feeling of sacrifice, I’ll bet. All in the name of Jesus, I’ll bet. But is stuffing the truth really Jesus honoring?
Could sacrificing truth and being nice hint of deception? How honest are you when you are being nice? Hmmmm…that is food for thought. Nice exchanged for truth can lead to a lot of mud and confusion. As when the stuffed truth finally does come out, often the one hearing the truth is clueless.
And the longer we stuff, typically the harsher it is when it comes out. Many of us have experienced this on both sides. The stuffer is choosing to sacrifice truth for nice. Sacrifice in a nut shell means exchanging something for something else. And when we cloak our stuffing in religiosity it does feel like a well-meaning sacrifice.
Jesus was talking to the religious people of the day and He said, “But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy not sacrifice.” Matthew 9:13
Let’s dissect this verse a little. To learn, means to acquire knowledge or skill by study or experience. A learned skill takes practice, repetition and not giving up. How quickly did you learn to drive a car or play the guitar?
And what does Jesus desire, long for, wish we would learn? Mercy. I love this definition of mercy: kindness toward the offender. Ah! And kindness IS a fruit of the spirit! To be kind is to have a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person. At the risk of playing scrabble let’s check out the word benevolent: desiring to do good for others.
So how quickly do you go to kindness and wanting to express good when you are offended? If you are like me, I am still learning mercy. Especially to extend the same mercy Jesus has toward me. Kindness toward the offender. It is so freeing and lovely to receive.
The trick is to be able to tell the truth to the offender with kindness. To be truthful and kind at the same time, that is a tall order, which is mercy. I have found that the sooner I speak truth, the softer my heart or the more kindness is expressed. Sometimes, when offended I do need to walk away until I can come back and express that I was offended and the truth of why. But too often we don’t come back before we stuff more.
Jesus’ desire, wish, longing is for me to learn mercy. This doesn’t mean slapping a person around with truth. “Jesus wants me to be truthful, so bam!” No, Jesus wants me and you to show mercy; kindness toward the offender as you share truth.
I am finding that learning mercy is a lifelong lesson. I learned to drive a car much quicker. I even passed a test and got my license! And yet, after 40 years of driving I just took out the trash can in the driveway last night. Yes, learning mercy will take a lifetime but we have the best teacher, the Holy Spirit. And it is what my Jesus desires.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22 Nice is not a fruit of the Spirit.