Faith & Work: An Uneasy Alliance – You Can Make a Difference – 7 of 8
Work is so hard, and we have to put in so much effort to achieve the most modest of results, because God cursed creation in response to Adam’s sin. Sin introduced an element of futility into the work system which also negatively impacts us as workers. As long as sinners like us work with and for other sinners, there are going to be interpersonal conflicts, power struggles, and jealousy. But believers can make a difference by serving others and by being change agents on the job (Matthew 5:13–16). At times you are going to be called upon to take an active stand against evil (Romans 12:9). The Old Testament story of Daniel shows us how.
Daniel and other godly, exceptional Hebrew youths were taken captive by the Babylonians (Daniel 1:20). Through the sovereignty of God, Daniel would eventually rise in the Babylonian government to the position of prime minister. Daniel and his friends walked faithfully with God in a hostile, pagan culture. They show us that we must take a stand when asked to do something wrong or which violates our conscience. On pain of death, Daniel and friends were commanded to worship an idol—a violation of the first two commandments. Now they liked their jobs; they loved their lives, but not enough to participate in this great evil (Daniel 3:16–18). They accepted Babylonian names and education, but they refused the pagan diet which consisted of unclean foods and would implicate them in idolatrous worship (Daniel 1:11–16).
You may be asked to lie to a customer, to cheat a vendor, or to ignore a regulation that governs your industry. You may be asked to recommend someone for a job—yet you doubt their competence or character. You may be asked to push a flawed product that you wouldn’t buy for yourself. When faced with situations such as these, remember the courage and convictions of these Hebrew youth. To act contrary to your conscience is to sin (James 4:17).
Furthermore, you need to take a stand when it is within your power to protect people from harm. Daniel did this (chapter 2). The king had concluded (accurately) that his advisors were a bunch of frauds, and so demanded that they and their families be killed. Daniel and his friends were considered part of that group, so their lives were also in danger. With God’s help Daniel gave the king a correct interpretation and was able to save the lives of all the wise men in Babylon (including the ungodly ones). Instead of using this opportunity to throw them under the bus and advance himself, he sought to save their lives. Daniel judged the king’s decree as contrary to a biblical worldview and used his position and God-given wisdom to thwart it.
God may have placed you where you work in order to thwart some evil. Suppose you know that coworkers are abusing alcohol or drugs and endangering the lives of others. If you’re an accountant or financial planner, you have the responsibility to try to talk others out of what you believe to be bad investments. God doesn’t want his people to stand idly by and allow others to suffer. What should you do? First, pray for wisdom and favor. Then go to the source of the problem, to the person who’s in a position to do something about it. Share your concerns. Make sure you clarify the facts. Appeal to them to do the good, right, moral thing. Make your appeal using the categories of morality and justice. Having such a conversation may jeopardize your job, or at least make job advancement unlikely. We must have the courage of our convictions. We are to be agents for good in the world. When we see evil we need to take a stand and then trust God to handle the consequences. That is what it means to walk by faith.
Finally, offer creative solutions to the problem. It is one thing to point out a problem, it is another to offer a creative solution! Daniel and his friends did that. It worked out for them, and maybe it will in your case as well. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Jesus said you are the light of the world. Church, let’s let our lights shine!
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
When you need to take a stand for righteousness:
- Begin with prayer.
- Go to the source of the problem, if possible.
- Offer alternative solutions to the problem.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)