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  • Writer's pictureEli Schnell

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

The saying is, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Children are often the recipients of this advice, but some carry it with them permanently into adulthood. The rule sounds innocent enough but becomes problematic when a person does not like hearing what needs to be said. Should I not speak if they do not think my message is nice? A person who hesitates over this concern should consider this: What a person needs to hear is not always pleasant to receive.

God has instructed Christians to share the message of the gospel with the world (Mark 16:15-16). The hope of salvation in Christ is a nice message, but along with that great blessing comes the requirement of repentance (Acts 17:30-31). In the days of John, the relative of Jesus, the people asked how they should repent. In other words, “What are we doing wrong?” John proceeded in Luke 3:11-14 to identify specific areas where people were practicing sin. Some were callous toward the needs of others. Some were greedy and deceitful. Some were bullies who took advantage of those weaker than themselves. John did not shy from these not-so-nice conversations. Instead, he communicated the truth of God clearly for the benefit of the listeners.

John’s unashamed communication of the truth ended with his head on a platter (Mark 6:17-18, 23-28). The response of the listener is not always nice when not-nice truth must be spoken. But it must be spoken. It is not for Christians to hide the truth, pleasant or otherwise.

Never stop speaking the truth to everyone (2 Tim. 4:1-4). Do not be intentionally abrasive in your approach, either (Eph. 4:29). Speak the truth in the kindest manner possible. If unpleasantness must come, let it come from a person’s rejection of the truth rather than from your irritating attitude as you point it at them.

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