Best of Daily Reflections: Full Christianity: Doing, Thinking, and Being, Part 3
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
In yesterday's reflection, we focused on the injunction that we "no longer live [literally, walk] as the Gentiles do" (4:17). Though the Christian life is surely much more than a list of "don'ts," there are behaviors common to life outside of Christ that we ought to avoid.
I don't plan to go into depth about all of these behaviors. Many of them will be addressed as we make our way through Ephesians 4-5. But, I do want to pause for a moment to consider how the command to "no longer live as the Gentiles do" might be relevant to our work. I'm thinking in particular of work for which we are paid, though you might reflect on other sorts of work in your life (family, church, community, etc.).
In your work experience, which common behaviors are plainly incompatible with faithful Christian living? Certain actions might quickly come to mind. Maybe you're in a workplace that is cutthroat in its competitiveness, where colleagues readily throw each other under the bus to advance their own careers. Or, perhaps you find yourself in a professional setting that asks you to bend the truth on a regular basis, or even to lie outright. As a pastor, I counseled with people who were expected to be far less than honest in their work lives. They wondered how to be faithful to the Lord and keep their jobs.
Most of my work experience, as you might guess, has been in explicitly Christian settings (churches, Foundations for Laity Renewal). I'll admit that I have, at times, struggled with issues of unhealthy competition and dishonesty. So the Christian workplace is not immune to typical worldly pressures. But, one of the most pernicious "Gentile practices" in Christian workplaces is gossip. Disciples of Jesus who would never justify cutthroat rivalry or lying feel strangely free to dish the dirt about their colleagues behind their backs, even though this is surely inconsistent with biblical teaching (see, for example, Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20). Many times throughout my professional life, I have caught myself whispering about coworkers in ways that are inconsistent with my faith.
I could go on describing various unhealthy workplace practices I have heard about or personally struggled with, practices that belong to the "Gentile" world we need to leave behind. But, rather than go on and on in this reflection, I would rather encourage you to think about your own work life, using the questions below.
FOR REFLECTION: Where do you struggle to be faithful in your work? What practices are common in your world of work that are incompatible with following Jesus? What helps you think critically and Christianly about your work?
PRAYER: Gracious God, you have placed me in this world as a witness to you. You have not called me out of the world, but rather sent me out so that I might reflect you in word and deed. Part of this reflection involves refraining from sinful actions that are common to the world. I admit, Lord, that I can easily fall into worldly patterns of behavior in every part of life, including my work. Forgive me.
Help me, I pray, to see myself truly, to acknowledge freely where my actions are inconsistent with your vision for my life. By your grace, may I leave behind the ways of the "Gentiles" so that I might live fully for you in my work as well as in every other facet of life.
To you be all the glory! Amen.
Image taken at Laity Lodge.