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Being a "Nice Guy" and Nicomachean Ethics


By heath - Posted on 04 April 2006

A friend of mine has a shirt about "LABS", that is Like A Brother Syndrome. He says that I have it. I have certainly never had that bad boy appeal. I have always been a "nice guy". For better or worse, I have learned to be extremely diplomatic. In contrast, however, God is freeing me more and more to not just be a nice guy. I can actually voice my opinion and join the argument.

What does God have to do with this? I used to think that I had to be a nice guy in order to be a Christian. I am probably still hypersensitive to being considerate to other's feelings, but am able with at least some people to be down-right obnoxious. Courtney praises God for it.

Sometime when I was a Senior in high school my personality underwent a big change. I don't know if that is when God really saved me or what, but things really changed. I really became my own man. However, it has taken close to 10 years for that change to work itself out to the surface.

I do occasionally leave a discussion wishing I had said what I was thinking, but now I am probably in danger of saying too much instead of too little. Some might still say I am too reserved, but am working toward the Golden Mean.

This is a concept in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics where he claims that there is a sweet spot for every virtue. For my example there might be the poles of "obnoxious" and "wall-flower". The Golden Mean might be "forthright". Anyway, Aristotle's idea is that whichever side of forthrightness you are on, you should act in accordance with the principle opposite the side you are on.

His idea is that habits produce character and that habits are only produced by action. In my situation, this means that when I am unsure of whether or not I should speak up, I should just do it. Odds are I would err on the side of caution, so I should just go the other way. Aristotle, unfortunately, did not know God's grace. However, God's grace frees us to abandon our sinful patterns because we are free to worship Christ. We are not dominated by the legalistic taskmasters we so slavishly serve without him.

Christ frees us because we see that we are sinful in almost every action. We are constantly depending on his grace. Being afraid to sin or holding back because we might sin just shows how much we are deceived about our current condition. The worst thing I can do is to refuse to act out of fear. This is unbelief out of pride and arrogance. In a sense, this is the only sin. God wants us to make the leap of faith. He wants us to step out on his grace. He wants us to jump up and down on his grace and prove that it will not falter. Then he wants to us to go where he tells us and not look back.

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I have always liked bad boys, so it must mean something that I like you. On that day when the love lightbulb came on for me, did you turn bad or something? Actually, I think it reveals something else. Maybe its not actually the "bad" part that girls like about bad boys, maybe its the dont give a rip attitude that most of them have that makes them seem so forceful, confident and subsequently so appealing and you grace junkies have it too.

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