Don’t be Duped by the Nice One
What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. Matthew 21:28-31
I have had experience with a number of what I suppose psychologists like Dr George Simon would call the covert-aggressive personality. That is what we have here in this parable. One brother overtly and openly refuses to do his father’s bidding. What a jerk! we would say as we write him off as a wicked son. But then, he turns round and does it! Then you have this other brother. You know, the nice one. As soon as dad asks him to go work in the vineyard he is compliant. “You bet!” But then he doesn’t do it. His rebellion is covert, hidden, unseen. We think him the nice guy, the wonderful son, the fellow ready and willing to obey. But in reality he is wicked. The niceness is a facade. He has no intention at all of doing what his father asked, though he mouths the words and smiles the smile that makes him look obedient. We like him. He’s nice.
Wrong. He is a liar. He has an evil heart given to deception. He is hard and without conscience. And he is more dangerous by far than the open, overt aggressor.
I have known these covert-aggressives. I have told myself and others that I like them in spite of their failures. But I am done fooling myself about them and I am done being fooled. I am finished with liking them. I now see behind the niceness, the smiles, the quick willingness to do whatever they are asked, and I see the wickedness that lurks there. I see a person who not only has no intention of doing what they say, but who, behind that smile, is a liar and a deceiver and a person who cares nothing for me. This is rank aggression. It is abuse.
And perhaps it is a worse form of abuse than that which is openly and plainly hostile.