Exchanging Love for Being “Nice”

people-are-big-and-god-is-small

“Paul was not a people-pleaser.  He was a people-lover, and because of that he did not change his message according to what others might think.  Only people-lovers are able to confront.  Only people-lovers are not controlled by other people.” Dr. Ed Welch

I was working on some notes for a sunday-school lesson on the fear of man when I came across the above quotation from “When People are Big and God is Small” by Ed Welch (Other than the Bible, this book has done more to affect my personal walk with God than any other) and was suddenly incredibly convicted.

As an introvert who struggled with self-esteem issues (secularized view of shame) as a child I’m really susceptible to people-pleasing (must be loved by others in order to feel successful).  With the Lords help I’m finding  my identity in Christ instead of others and experience victory over people pleasing, but during my study was reminded confrontation is an area where I’m still addicted to others approval.

Now for most of us even the word “confrontation” brings up uncomfortable emotions, awkwardness, and cold sweats so its very difficult to link that with the word “loving.”  But the truth is not confronting sinful behavior is the truly unloving act.

Here’s how Paul David Tripp describes this in “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands.

A rebuke free of unrighteous anger a clear sign of Biblical love, but I am afraid we have replaced love in our relationship with being “nice.”  Being nice and acting out of love are not the same thing.  Our culture puts a high premium on being tolerant and polite.  We seek to avoid uncomfortable moments, so we see, but do not speak.  We go so far as to convince ourselves that we are not speaking because we love the other person, when in reality we fail to speak because we lack love. (emphasis added)

Dr. Tripp refers here to exchanging niceness for love, instead of doing the loving thing (confronting sin) we do the nice thing (allow it to continue).

Sadly this idea has grown till today the definition of “love” has moved far past just being nice.

“In the West today, we then lay our definition of love directly on top of this negative conception of freedom.  To love someone is to set them free-it’s to remove all constraints and judgments:  If you love me with conditions or judgments, you don’t love me because your not letting me be free.”  Jonathan Leeman

The above quote comes from “The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love” by Jonathan Leeman.  Chapter one (the idolatry of love) is the best description I’ve found of this redefined love and how we got there (worth the price of the book alone).

Back to this morning…because our culture has exchanged niceness for love it’s very easy for us as Christians (especially those who are people-pleasers) to choose being nice because “it’s the loving thing to do”

There’s just one problem with that

Refusing to confront sin isn’t very loving

In fact it’s the most unloving thing we can possibly do.

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