Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Question And The Answer

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you would get the information you wanted, only to find out that not only was your question not answered, your question was never asked? This is the situation in which I found myself this week. The author of this lesson focused on very pertinent information about Christian behavior in the workplace, such as the ethic of hard work. He noted that Christians will not cheat, take advantage of others or play favoritism. He further noted that Christians will be hard working, fair, and will demonstrate integrity.
While this infromation is great, the one question he did not ask, nor answer was, "how to get along with your co-workers." Yet this is the area where most of us have difficulty. More people are fired because of difficulty getting along with others, than because they don't know how to do their job. Christians too, fall in this category. How unfortunate, since as Christians, we have not only the ethics manual of the scriptures, but the power of God Himself at our disposal.

Nevertheless, most people I talk with, whether Christian or not, have one common complain about their workplace. Most say, “I don’t mind the job, it is my coworkers and supervisors I have a problem with.” Amazing how our problem is with others' expectations and not with the work at hand. When I went to college I thought that if I studied sciences I would not have to deal with many people. I forgot about my coworkers, who indeed are a challenge. And, I suppose in all fairness, that I am a challenge to them. The scripture is not direct in its treatment of the subject of co-worker relationships, and apparently neither is
Sister White. So, Are we to assume that this topic is not worthy to be dealt with? Are we to take it for granted that the scripture and Sister White mean for us to just figure it out? Is this one of those situations where the Lord would look at us pitifully and say, “O, ye of little faith. How long must I be with you before you learn?” I believe we can glean some principles regarding relating to our
co-workers from examples given us in the Word, that will give us understanding.
Through a prayerful study of these scriptural examples, and the illumination
of the Holy Spirit, we can have the mind of Christ in this matter.

One thing for certain, the Lord never meant for man to be idle. He meant for Adam to work even in Eden. Of course, Work in the garden was pleasant, and fulfilling. God planted the garden and gave it to Adam and Eve as their home. Their work was to dress or tend the garden, train the plants and trees to provide beauty and shade. They were to cultivate the flowers, name the animals, and learn the character of each. As they did this, their hearts would go out to their creator in gratitude and love. This was nature of their work.

After the fall Adam and Eve were to plant their own Garden. In order to reap the benefits of its growth, they were to utilize their understanding of the character of each plant and tree, as well as the skill they had gained in tending the perfect garden. Because of their disobedience--their un-willingness to listen to, and ponder the Word of the Lord, the ground was cursed. No longer would the work of tilling the land be simply delightful. Instead, only diligent ongoing, seemingly unceasing seasons of sweaty watchfulness and backbreaking or mind bending work now yield results.

Thankfully, God sent His son in the form of a man without the law to save those under the condemnation of the law. Through the act of giving His life's blood to right the wrong of Adam the first, We have been released from the condemnation inherent in breaking the law of love. In Christ, we have not only been redeemed, but are being restored to what we would have been had the human race in Adam never sinned. We are having the mind of Christ which Adam and Eve were no longer able to transmit to us after the fall. In short, we are being transformed from the inside out, so that our thoughts, and desires, our dreams and goals, yes, our plans become those of Christ, and through His Spirit, the Godhead's. Christ's one over-riding goal: "to seek and save the lost," becomes ours. Our workplace becomes the garden of our mission. God places us there, and through His spirit and power, we along
with Him, "work the land, sow the seed, water, weed, and watch for the harvest."

In the book of Genesis, we find the example of Joseph. He is forced through very adverse circumstances to work outside of his home. Just as we do, Joseph had periods where he flourished. There were times he was recognized, rewarded and promoted. Like us he had periods where he was lied about, betrayed, back-stabbed, ignored, and taken for granted. The Bible never says that Joseph returned in kind the evil he received. He continued, by faith, to love everyone unconditionally, was careful and discreet in his conversation, and treated everyone with respect and dignity.

I know what you're thinking, "I don't think I could do that, that's asking a little too much." "At least it was with his family, there is no way I'd could do that if my co-workers treated me like that--I'd file a grievience, maybe even a lawsuit or quit!" "There is no way I'd put up with that... ." Isn't it amazing that if we work 35-40 plus hours a week, we are actually spending more hours with those at work than with those we profess to love? Perhaps, God placed us where we are to learn to love others unselfishly. Afterall, "greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15),and all the law hangs on these two principles, love to God supremely, and love to others, as He has loved us (John 13: 34, 35).

While loving others as He has loved us is not an easy feat, it merely requires
a simple decision. Yet due to our sinful nature, most of the time we do not want to love others, and thus we complicate matters. But, it is not impossible to love as He loved, if we choose to let Him love through us. Yes, it is the same Godly, unconditional, agape Love that He gives us to love our parents, spouses, children, and friends. And yes, He also provides the necessary guidelines and boundaries to express this love toward our coworkers. Will you let Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enable you to work wisely, and love your coworkers as He's loved you?

Ps. This article, Get Along Better With Coworkers, offers some tips about: How to get along with coworkers. Prayerfully consider its advise.

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