A few weeks ago I was going through a few days of a depressed mood. I was sick of being the “nice guy”. I tend to try and be generous as best I can, and was getting frustrated that I wasn’t getting good anything in return. That day I had bought a multi pack of energy drinks to do me for the week ahead, and in the space of one night had given away about half of them to friends I was living with because they had asked. I had to watch as all around me people were pairing up, and I was being left ‘forever alone’. I was getting sick of taking the time to write notes of affirmation and not getting some back in return. I was getting fed up of mailing chocolate and letters to my overseas friends and never getting some candy in return from them. I was frustrated at always having to be the one to arrange to go and visit my overseas friends – it was about time they came to my country to see me.
And one night in the midst of this frustration and despair I was praying and laying out my frustrations to God (because Biblically that is a good idea, just look at the book of Psalms…). As I was praying I said how “sometimes, being the nice guy suck”. And God blew me away with His reply. He told me “You aren’t doing this to serve you. You’re doing it to serve Me.”
Talk about a paradigm shift. It totally changed my way of thinking. For so long I had been looking for what I could get out of it. If I just write some nice affirming words for this girl, and then send her some candy, then let her have one of my cans of drink any time she asks, she is bound to fall for me, and I’ll be on my way to married bliss. But that was the wrong way to think. (For one, that approach seems to result only in a one way ticket to the hell that is ‘the friend zone’). When we do good deeds we shouldn’t be looking for what we can get out of them. We should be looking for how we serve God through them.
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus tells us that whenever we do anything for the least brother or sister on earth “you were doing it to me”. By serving others, we are really serving Jesus. We shouldn’t do it for what we can get out of it. Indeed, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us “Don’t do your good deeds publically, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven…Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1,4. We need to be careful to love without an agenda. We don’t love so we look good to others. We don’t love so others will love us. We don’t love because of how it will be reciprocated to us. We love because God first loved us, and to love others is the only response. We are not out to serve ourselves. We are out to serve God. Sure, sometimes being the nice guy may suck if we are only looking to serve ourselves. But when we realize we are doing it to serve God, we realize that being the nice guy never sucks.