Jesus’ teachings when He walked on the earth were full of controversy. (For all intents and purposes, they still are.) One of the more controversial things He spoke about was turning the other cheek.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
– Matthew 5:38-40 NIV
Turning the other cheek is about as counter-cultural as you can get in the kind of world we live in. One where strength and dominance are put on full display everywhere you go and any semblance of weakness is treated with contempt and capitalized on by whoever can get maximum gain. The business world has exemplified this in all its precarious extremes.
The workplace is one of those environments that brings together all sorts of people with varying backgrounds and beliefs. As such, the presence of opposing views and conflict should come as no surprise. If anything, some classic default settings already exist in the business world such as “the client is always right” that preempt clashes that may occur.
The world has its strategy for dealing with opposition. But as a believer, how do you handle the conflict that arises in the course of your work day?
“Jesus did not live in reaction to the devil. He lived in response to the Father.”
– Bill Johnson
It’s dangerous for us as believers to allow circumstances to set the tone for how we handle life situations; to react to the world around us defensively rather than living on the offence as a people with the benefit of divine insight. A defensive posture developed on the fly in the middle of a crisis hardly makes for good life strategy.
When it comes down to it, Jesus commissioned us to do more than just win arguments. We are called to be salt and light to the world; to bring about a transformation that has eternal value and impact. Yes, there are situations that call us to scream at the top of our lungs from the highest mountain we can possibly find. But then there are those that will require more tact from us if we are to do more than just talk. Some will even demand that we walk away from a battle so we can win the war.
But how do you know what to do as a believer in the midst of conflict?
One of the reasons we emphasize knowing why you’re at a particular position in the workplace is because purpose will give you context to understand what comes your way and how to deal with it. It’s difficult to invoke the heart and hand of God if you don’t even know whether it’s His will for you to be where you are doing what you’re doing.
If you’re certain that God has positioned you where you are, it gives you the courage to do what is right in His sight in a given scenario, regardless of what that looks like to everyone else. Having done all you can to stand, the Holy Spirit is right there with you ensuring that you do indeed stand.
When your agenda in the workplace is driven by God, you start to see things the way He does.
Sometimes a person will come against a believer without even knowing that it’s the nature in them at war with the nature in the believer. When it seems like you’re being picked on for no apparent reason, you learn to hold your peace in the physical and fight the battle where it’s really taking place – the realms of the spirit.
Sometimes the overbearing boss and the catty colleague are tools in the hand of a God who is moulding your character so you can learn to serve and minister to people of all kinds. With humility, you embrace the lesson at hand and work as unto God not unto the flawed human beings beside you. Your faithfulness to serve is no longer linked to how nice someone is to you; it’s driven by the never-changing faithfulness of the One who has called you.
Sometimes opposition is God speaking through your circumstances to tell you you’re not where you’re supposed to be. There’s no divine grace for what you’re doing because it’s not in line with His will for your life in that season.
Turning the other cheek isn’t becoming a door mat that everyone can walk over. It boils down to humility – the right estimation of yourself and God in a given situation. Humility is abhorred by the world because darkness doesn’t have the ability to comprehend light. It takes the Spirit of God to reveal the truth of the power vested in humility to us as believers.
There are times humility will demand that you take a courageous stand like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. There are times that same humility will demand that you pull back like David did when he could easily have killed Saul, his tormentor.
Is it more important to you that you win a fight and prove you’re right or that the will of God comes to pass? Because often, one will have to cede way for the other. Inherent in this question is whether you trust God to fight for you or you feel like you need to have your own back.
Deeper still, lies the seemingly impossible and certainly uncomfortable call – love your enemies. We don’t do it because it’s easy. We do it because the love we experience from God compels us to live lives that testify of a love that is bigger than preference and convenience.
May we walk away from every form of pride that stands in the way of our testimony.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
Think of someone you’ve been having a hard time dealing with in your workplace. Ask the Lord to show you how you can extend love to them this week.