Joe, a friend of mine, reminded me that he works in a company where few employees are Christians. “In my division, I am the only one,” he stated. “Recently, the guys I work with stopped and had breakfast on our way to our field assignment. These are nice guys,” Joe went on to say, “but they don’t always use the best language. On this particular morning, a couple of them were telling a funny story in this crowded restaurant. The two coworkers who were telling the story peppered the account with several four-letter words. Additionally, they were talking a couple of notches above what some would consider normal volume.”
“As they were talking, I looked toward the booth next to us. Seated there was a mother with her young son, maybe ten years old,” Joe informed me. “It looked as if the mother was agitated or concerned that her son was hearing these four-letter words. The story ended and the guys calmed down but I felt badly that such an example had been set for the young boy. Though I had led my fellow-workers in a prayer of thanksgiving and even prayed with our waitress before the meal, I felt like we had just blown our witness big time! Well, maybe I should say I had blown my witness! Even though I wasn’t using bad language, I was a part of the group who was. I felt awful, especially about the little boy and what he had heard.”
I asked Joe if he did anything about it. He shared that his group left almost simultaneously with the woman and her son. “I followed her out of the restaurant, introduced myself to her and the boy, and proceeded to apologize for the language that was used. I told her that I was a Christian and regretted what had just happened. I tried to address the little boy directly and let him know this was a bad example. I also told them that I was the only Christian in the bunch and was personally trying to reach these guys for Christ.” He said the mother was very appreciative of his apology and his approach to her son. “It really did have a happy ending. She even thanked me for the influence I am trying to have on my coworkers,” Joe added.
There really is a fine balance, isn’t there, between being a part of the sin versus trying to get in the midst of it in order to shine light into the darkness? What would you have done? Joe also told me he spoke to his coworkers later that day and carefully asked them to be aware of children in their midst who may be listening to their words. “I didn’t say anything condemning to them, I simply asked them to be conscious of those hearing their words and what kind of impact they may be having on others.” Peter reminds us that we are, “…chosen…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light…” (I Pet. 2:9) Though we are not of this world, we are still in it.
Think of how you would have handled this situation. Would you have acted differently? Would you have said anything? Would you let it slide? Pray through the balance that each of us must strike daily in order to live and work above sin, yet maintain the higher standards found in God’s Word which were demonstrated in Christ Himself. We must stand against sin yet also minister to our associates in ways so as not to not ostracize them. This balance is not easy. But you can- and will- find it as you follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit! Do so today, and your day will significantly count for Christ at work. Have a great workday!