The Christian in the Workplace

A dear brother in Christ recently received a very affirmative written evaluation from his supervisor, commending him for his consistently positive attitude at work.

Likely, this supervisor has observed others who gripe, gossip, and create friction among coworkers. In contrast, this brother’s attitude really stands out.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

How else can Christians let their light shine in the workplace?

Be honest.

Employers are looking for people they can trust completely—who never lie, pilfer, or cut corners. Paul says that this kind of work ethic of “showing all good faith . . . will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:9-10).

Work hard and work well.

The Christian who gives 100% on the job not only earns the respect of his superiors, but also serves as a pacesetter for fellow employees.

“Whatever you do,” Paul exhorted Christian slaves, “do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Do more than required.

This is the principle of going the second mile, as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:41).

When my mother-in-law got caught up with her work as a secretary, she’d ask her boss, “Is there anything else I can do?”

A job is so much more than a paycheck.

It’s a golden opportunity to make a positive impression on those who are curious or even skeptical about what being a Christian is all about.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Suffering Viewed Through the Lens of Faith

A few weeks ago Jimitri and Ruby Green, much-loved members of our congregation, learned that little Jimitri Jr. (whom they call Deuce) has a rare form of leukemia that is difficult to treat.

Yesterday Jimitri sent an update on Deuce’s condition. He’s making good progress, in answer to many prayers!

Peace in the storm

What impressed me most is the upbeat attitude they have chosen to take through this ordeal. Jimitri wrote:

“The following statement may sound weird, but I am blessed to have the opportunity to go through what we are experiencing. Although it is hard, there is a great deal of good that has come from it, and we’ve spent the multitude of days thus far in pure and perfect peace, knowing that God is with us. It’s amazing to know that so much peace comes with faith and trust. We’ve realized that God has not promised us a life without storms. But what He has promised to those who trust in Him is “Peace” in those tribulations.

“Please let the church know that we love them so much and that every word of encouragement, every card and every visit are not overlooked nor taken for granted. It fills our hearts with so much cheer to know that we are not in this alone.”

Joy in suffering

If Jimitri and Ruby did not have their faith and the encouragement and prayers of their church family, how well would they be doing?

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

The paradox of joy in suffering may seem to some to be unrealistic and nonsensical, but to Jimitri and Ruby, it makes perfect sense.

They’re living it!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Problem with Complaining

For forty long years God endured Israel’s perpetual complaints in the wilderness. Instead of remembering how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and instead of eagerly anticipating the land of milk and honey God had promised them, they kept grousing about their trials along the way.

In all this they betrayed both their ingratitude and lack of faith in their benevolent Provider.

We’re supposed to learn something from them: how not to be.

“Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction . . .” (1 Corinthians 10:9-11).

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world . . .” (Philippians 2:14-15).

                                                Ode to a Grouch

Grumble, murmur, whine, complain.

Air your grievance; don’t refrain.

“Woe is me!”–yes, sing that song.

Sing it loud and sing it long.

And to make it even worse,

Sing the same song, second verse.

Let them know that you’re upset.

Just make sure they don’t forget.

Keep on griping–don’t be shy.

Bellyache until you die.

But after all is done and said,

Will they miss you when you’re dead?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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How to Love Someone You Don’t Like

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One of life’s greatest challenges

Our adult class was studying 1 John 4, which has much to say about love, including, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love . . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:8, 11).

A member of the class asked, “What do you say when someone tells you, ‘I can’t stand that person’?”

In response, other class members suggested practical steps we can take in dealing with someone we don’t enjoy being around. These pointers, along with additional comments, can provide us with guidelines for our relationships with one another.

First, liking and loving are two different things.

To love others in the biblical sense means we desire what is best for them and then act accordingly (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Second, pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).

By asking God to bless them and also to help us overcome our aversion, we will likely find ourselves feeling more positive toward them.

Third, get better acquainted.

Are there people you initially disliked, but after getting to know them you gained a different perspective? We may discover some good qualities we were unaware of, or we may learn why they are the way they are.

Fourth, do something good for them (Romans 12:20-21). This can actually soften attitudes on both sides.

Replacing ill will with goodwill

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). This implies that in spite of our best efforts, the other person may never move in our direction. But at least we’ve done what we could.

And while we cannot force anyone to feel kindly toward us, at least we have control over our own attitudes.

If we make a sincere effort to apply these principles, we may be pleasantly surprised by what God enables us to do.

We’ll never know until we try.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Having the Heart of God Toward Sinners

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The main character of the book of Jonah is not Jonah, but God. Jonah tries to escape God’s order to preach to Nineveh by heading the opposite direction. By means of the storm at sea and the fish that swallowed Jonah, God compels the reluctant prophet to carry out his mission.

Like and unlike

Like Jesus, Jonah was from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25). Also Jesus compared His time in the tomb with Jonah’s “three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster” (Matthew 12:40).

Jonah may have been like Jesus in some ways, but how different his attitude! God sent both Jonah and Jesus on a mission. Jesus went willingly and yearned to see people turn from their sins. Jonah was keenly disappointed when the Ninevites repented, because now he wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing God punish them!

Jonah’s problem was not that he misunderstood God’s compassionate nature. He understood it very well: “. . . for I knew that You are a gracious God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness . . .” (Jonah 4:2). This proves that one can have orthodox theology while harboring a rotten attitude.

Learning from Jonah’s experience

We don’t know what happened to Jonah after this, but it is God who has the last word: “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than   120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11).

Both Jonah and the Ninevites needed to repent. If we humble ourselves in penitent obedience, we too will enjoy the benefits of His grace–and we can begin to reflect toward others His great compassionate heart.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Untaken Advice

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Input

With all ten of Job’s children dead, his wealth gone, and now his health, his wife advised him, “Curse God and die!”

His response? “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:9-10).

What if he had done as she said? Would he have been better off?

Outcome

The end of Job’s story proves that holding onto God ultimately brings great reward (Job 42:10-17; James 5:11).

True, Job questioned God’s justice and wondered why he suffered as he did, but he didn’t give up on God.

Who can best survive hardship? The person who believes that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Nothing.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Bump-Bump

The obstacles we encounter

“Why do they have those slow-down bumps?” our son Monte asked when he was five.

His word for it may be more descriptive than “speed bumps.”

Life is full of slow-down bumps: financial reverses, major surgery, an accident, a deferred promotion, a job loss, etc.

Can any good come from life’s disappointing delays? Definitely (Romans 8:28).

The perspective we gain

These interruptions remind us of our limitations, that we’re not in complete control of our lives (James 4:13-16).

And when compelled to slow our hectic pace, we then have time to think—and change (Luke 15:11-24).

We have a choice. Either we can go joltingly over life’s slow-down bumps with teeth-rattling defiance, or we can accept them for what they are—and go gently over.

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