How should Christians respond if asked to do something at work that conflicts with their beliefs?
If you’ve never asked yourself that question; you’d better. Don’t just trust that your instincts will lead you to the right decision. Sincere Christians have lost businesses and found themselves in jail for taking stands in the name of their religion. How far does God want us to go?
Here are a couple of principles to guide Christian conduct in the workplace:
Choose your battles carefully.
Everyone knew where Jesus stood on the issues of His day, but He expressed His views selectively and carefully.
The religious teachers once brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They reminded Him that the Law of Moses required them to stone convicted adulterers and asked Jesus what He thought they should do.
Jesus believed adultery was wrong. He affirmed the Law of Moses in Matthew 5:27–28, and He even said that to look at a woman with lust is to commit adultery in the heart.
Despite His personal objection to the woman’s sin, He chose not to condemn her. He told the religious leaders that the one among them without sin should cast the first stone. Aware of their own wrongdoing, they all walked away.
Was Jesus endorsing adultery by not picking up stones and punishing the woman?
Of course not.
But Jesus knew that bowing to the religious leaders’ desire for harsh judgment wasn’t the best way to influence the people He wanted to reach. He knew that being righteous didn’t require Him to explicitly state His beliefs in every situation.
Jesus’ goal, and ours as well, is to have a positive influence on people for God. Sometimes that will mean telling them what the Bible says about right and wrong, and sometimes it will mean showing people grace and mercy.
Employment is not an endorsement.
Public school teachers have to teach things they don’t agree with. Human resources employees have to create, implement and enforce policies they don’t agree with. Business owners have to serve people they don’t agree with.
You don’t endorse everything an organization believes and represents just because you work for them. You’re not condoning everything a customer does by providing a service to them. Most of the time, you don’t know anything about the people who frequent your business.
It’s hard, maybe impossible, to find an employer you agree with on everything religiously and morally. That’s why God doesn’t require us to do that.
The prophet Daniel was a personal servant to several Babylonian kings during Judah’s exile. Babylon was not a God-honoring nation. It was an extremely corrupt nation that was an enemy God’s chosen people, Israel.
Daniel didn’t refuse to do his job because of who his boss was. He was secure enough in his relationship with God to know that he could serve the kings of Babylon without inheriting their flaws.
The Bible says Daniel made up his mind that he wouldn’t defile himself, and God granted Him favor with his superiors.
Through Daniel’s example, it’s clear that faithfulness to God isn’t compromised by living in a non-Christian nation or working for a non-Christian boss. You don’t have to stand up every day and announce to everyone what you think is wrong about them or what they do. You just have to decide to do what you know is right, and continue to honor God with your own words and actions. Part of honoring God is doing your job well, no matter what you do for a living.
If an opportunity comes up to address a biblical issue with someone, and you can do it in a way that will impact rather than just offend, take it. But if it will only offend the person with no impact on their thinking or actions, it’s probably not the time to make your point.
Don’t operate in fear. Christians are gaining a reputation as a group that lashes out in panic toward everyone who disagrees with them. But we should be distinguished by love, not fear.
Exercise wisdom in deciding when and how to take a stand. No matter where you work, keep your own conduct in line with God’s word, and let your decision about when to speak up be guided by love and by how much influence your words can have on a situation.