All jobs are hard at times… because they involve people. Even those with the most graceful spirits and empathetic souls find people challenging or frustrating at times. Sometimes it’s the boss or the coworkers, sometimes it’s the customers or clients, sometimes it’s the little people in your house (or the big people) … but for good or bad, in everything we do we have to work with people at some level.
Our family does retail, so we work with people all day everyday. Let me be honest here, that is not easy. Retail is not made for the faint at heart. Every day and every person is different. Some days are delightful, everyone woke up on the right side of the bed happy and healthy, staff can read ou rminds and has incredible efficiency, manufacturers are turning around orders with speed and accuracy, marketing is bringing people into the store in droves, customers are in the best moods, there are no complaints and we have no competition… okay, so that happened never. But that’s the point. The more people you interact with on a daily basis, the more the chances are that someone is going to make a mistake, be in a bad mood, make a decision you don’t agree with, forget something, say something wrong, take you for granted, offend you and so on. And unless you are completely stoic, that effects you. So we have to make decisions constantly about how to react to these interactions, how we are going to let them effect us.
This is where spiritual truth is so important. The world tells us to react in equal measure or to even go on the offensive. You have rights. You don’t deserve this. You’re the victim. Be offended. Be indignant. Be frustrated and annoyed. Be hurt. Get angry. Give them a piece of your mind. Can’t publicly? Then vent. Tell friends. Tell Facebook. The more people agree, the more justified you are. Let it out. Have a glass of wine. Take some “me” time. Nurse your wounds. Really hurt? Take them to court. Take action. Get revenge. Turn other people against them. You are justified in your response because they deserve it.
He said to turn the other cheek. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Take up your cross. Be slow to speak. Be slow to become angry. Look over an offense. Don’t be quarrelsome. Be kind. Patiently endure evil. Remain steadfast under trial. Do not throw your pearls to the swine. Be content with weaknesses, hardships, insults, persecution, and calamities. Leave vengeance to the Lord. And this… work as if you’re working for the Lord. And above all, love, for this is how they will know God.
Worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom couldn’t be more polarized on this issue.
For that reason, we have Colossians 3:23-24 on the wall in our office. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord.” It’s a constant reminder to keep our eyes on the bigger picture. Because the pendulum swings both ways. As much as other people effect our day, we are effecting theirs as well. We are the aroma of Christ, we are the hands and feet of Jesus, and by our lives they will know the love of God. So we aren’t working to make a bunch of money, to live a certain lifestyle, to be able to retire at a certain point… if that was the ultimate goal we’d be severely disappointed. Rather, we are building our treasures in heaven, this store is simply where God has us right now to share the gospel, build up his church, and provide so we can be generous. We are stewards. Brad and I like to remind each other with the question, “what are we really here for?”.
It’s a beautiful thing to realize that with the right perspective it’s impossible to be offended. No one on this earth justifies us. Only Christ Jesus does that, and he has. So we can carry no offense. And praise Jesus, that God doesn’t either. How many times have we treated him with less honor than he deserves, made a bad decision, woke up on the wrong side of the bed, forgotten something, said something wrong, disobeyed, was greedy, selfish, envious, and put something in a place of honor above him? How many times have we denied our cross and wanted all the blessings from faith without the trials and persecutions? Yet our God carries no offense towards us. By the blood of Jesus, he sees us as righteous and pure, sons and daughters and heirs with Christ. How does your heart not pour out in THANKSGIVING for that!
So two things I leave you with today… “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, GIVING THANKS to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17.