I remember being stunned when two Christian ladies I personally know "got into it" with each other in the medical office where they were employed and one of them literally punched out the other! What do you do when you are hurt by someone at work? Retaliate? It is the natural thing to do? I still remember my freshman college physical education professor wearing a T-shirt that said, "I don't get mad; I get even." (I think it was a joke but I am glad I never got on her bad side to find it out!)
In Matthew 18 Jesus tells the story of a business man (let's call him Joe) who was, at the same time, a debtor and one who owed a debt. The debt he owed was equivalent to 150 years of daily workplace service (an impossible debt to pay.) When his debtor called in the loan he couldn't pay it and knew he was headed for time in jail. He begged and "fell face-down before him and said, 'Be patient with me and I will pay you everything.' Then the master ...had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan." (Matt. 18:26) This same man (Joe), who had just been shown incredible mercy and grace, was also a debtor himself and went out immediately and tried to collect a late loan from a man who owed him about 3 months salary. Taking the man by the throat, Joe choked him and demanded the money and the one indebted to him begged for mercy and said, 'Be patient with me and I will pay you back." But he wasn't willing. On the contrary, he threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed." Wow! Businessman Joe had been forgiven a debt at least 600 times greater than the one owed him yet he was going to enforce punitive measures on another!
Let's be honest. People are going to hurt you in life from time to time. This is true at work as it is anywhere else. Some of your employees or co-workers will let you down. Some will betray your confidence. From time to time one of them will knowingly or unknowingly crush your spirit in a devastating way. You remember exactly when it happened. You couldn't believe it happened. But it did. That was how long ago? But you can recall it as if it was yesterday and the brokenness (and maybe even bitterness) lingers on. Sometimes it still dominates your perspective or frame of mind.
Will you retaliate and get even when given the opportunity or will you exercise the same grace extended to you by Christ? This is not a rhetorical question to debate. It is a real-life, workplace issue that you must deal with today. You have already decided what kind of person you will be at work. What did you choose?
Do you need to re-think your approach to "personal injury" from others at work and how you typically deal with it? Are you harboring bitterness this morning toward another employee, your boss, an associate? Is there grace in your heart? Has Christ not already forgiven you a debt you cannot pay?
Do you need to ask forgiveness today from a co-worker or anyone else at work? Do you need to extend it and be released of the bitterness in your heart? Let it go! Turn loose the resentment you have had for that employee or associate who hurt you some time ago. Move past it.
Here are several methods you may wish to employ to assist you in overcoming brokenness and the bitterness that accompanies it:
- Initiate reconciliation no matter who is at fault.
- Be willing to go to the associate involved say, "I'm sorry about what happened," even if you were not the one who created the brokenness
- Be quick to admit guilt if you are truly the guilty party. Sin cannot be forgiven unless it is confessed to the Lord.
- Remember, God is working through even the unlovely aspects of your workplace experience and relationships and He will redeem them and use them for good if you allow it.
Do for others what God has already done for you!
"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation...Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ." (2 Cor. 5:18, 20a)