Dear Pastor Charles: I am having a difficult problem at work that I hope you can help me with. I am a Christian and I try to take my faith with me wherever I go. I try very hard to give my employer my best effort each day and it has not gone unnoticed as I receive great evaluations and good bonuses for my efforts. My problem lies with some of my fellow workers who constantly hassle me and try to make me look bad to my bosses. I don’t know why they do this to me because I have certainly done nothing to them that warrants this treatment. Perhaps it is because I don’t go out for drinks after work, I don’t know. I just know that it really bothers me to be treated badly when I am trying to do my best. What should I do? Tormented…
You should thank God that you are being persecuted for His name’s sake because it means that you belong to God. Jesus said in John 15:18-21,
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”
Persecution comes in many forms and with varying degrees of torment. However, please know that it always comes as part of the package of being a Child of God. At some point in our Christian journey we all will be called upon suffer or sacrifice in some way for our faith in Jesus. In fact, God uses suffering to strengthen our faith and reliance upon Him.
The fact that your employer recognizes your efforts tells me that you are acting as a Christian should at your place of employment. God calls us to be hardworking and honest as witnesses to our employers and our fellow employees as to how those who belong to Christ should act. The Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
You have stated in your letter that you try to take your faith with you wherever you go. I commend you for your courage because being a Christian is not as popular in our society as it once was. I would caution you with only one thing. The Bible teaches us that the Gospel will always be offensive to the godless elements in our society. However, as a Christian, you need to make sure that it is the offense of the Gospel and not an offensive Christian that is causing their reaction to you. In other words, are you judgmental and condemning of their practices to which you have decided not to participate? For sure, it is wrong as Christians to endanger our precious witness for God by participation in unwholesome practices, but it is altogether as wrong for us to stand in judgment of those who do. After all, only God is the righteous judge as our own vision is cloudy at best.
Your problem at work more likely stems from your righteous example. The Apostle John explains for us in 1 John 3:11-13, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”
In other words, because of your integrity on the job, you are making some of your fellow workers envious because the quality of their work does not measure up to yours. Therefore, out of resentment, they are attempting to destroy you and your reputation. Cain murdered his brother Abel because Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to God, just as your sacrifice of a job well done is more pleasing to your employer.
So that’s the rub of it my dear friend. Sometimes we are called to suffer some for our faith. My advice to you is that you forgive from your heart for the malice that is being wrought against you. You can only do this by asking God for His help as you are not strong enough to do it on your own. As you pray for them, it may help you to remember what Jesus prayed as He was hanging upon the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I have also found that people are less likely to be offensive one on one. Try inviting one of your tormentors to have lunch with you one day, or perhaps ask one of them for some help with something you are working on. Somehow, you need to show each of them individually, not as a group, that you are a human being with feelings, cares and problems just like them. The writer of Proverbs said in Pr. 25:21-22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
My prayer for you is that you will be strengthened to continue your witness at you job. May God bless, protect and keep you.