Mistreatment and Persecution at Work

By Tim White

There are times when a Christian employee finds himself/herself a cruel and unfair environment. Supervisors who are not Christians do not understand the Christian mindset and value system, and may even resent the Christian for his or her beliefs. How is the Christian supposed to react to a cruel and unfair situation according to the Scriptures?

Back when the New Testament was written, a major part of employment was slavery. Although the principles of Jesus led His followers away from this cultural error, that was not the purpose of Jesus' ministry. His ministry was to change hearts, and a changed heart would move the redeemed soul towards God in behavior and practices and away from wicked practices like slavery.

Despite being about slavery, the biblical instructions for slaves and masters (Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-4:1, etc.) are wrought with principles of employment that we should heed with all seriousness and commitment. One of these tells us to work as if we were working directly for God and not for men (Colossians 3:23).

Here are some possible principles that can be cross-applied from slavery to the employment world when a believer is being treated cruelly and with disrespect in the workplace:

1) God may be trying to move you to another job or occupation.

This is probably the least likely of the possibilities but should be considered in a difficult situation. Sometimes, when we do not listen to the soft promptings of God concerning employment and changes, He uses stronger messages to get our attention.

Do not let the treatment you receive be the reason of your decision. At best, use the treatment focus your attention to God, to see what His will would be. God may be using the treatment to get your attention for a different purpose, not as an indicator of your position or change. See Acts 8:1-4.

2) God is working in you to remove that character trait that is displeasing.

From my experience in counseling, this is the most likely cause of mistreatment and persecution at work. It is similar to the first possibility in that God is trying to get our attention. However, His reason is because we have refused to deal with a character flaw He has touched in our lives. He is calling us to more purity. Often, the call is in an area that is in a blind spot and we need help to understand it.

The call of God may be to address a seed of laziness, rebellion, stubbornness, unfriendliness, lack of unconditional love, arrogance and pride, or untrustworthiness. In this situation, sometimes a simple meeting with the difficult employer, asking what areas you can work on, is sufficient to point out your need for growth and make room for your employer to let you grow with less pressure. See James 1:2-4.

3) God is giving you an awesome opportunity to display His character in persecution.

A third possibility for cruel and unfair treatment in the workplace is that God wants those you work with and around cruelty to demonstrate the character of God displayed in your life under persecution. You are being called to suffer for Christ's sake for the good of the kingdom. You would be called to ignore social norms of grievances and presenting evidence of mistreatment, to live under the higher economy of a Holy God, expressing love in the most unloving environment.

If this is the case, your dependence on God and focus on His purpose need to be unshakable. You need His strength and must learn to trust in Him alone for the power to survive this testing. See Matthew 5:10-12.

Image Credit: ashishacoway; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Hardships  | Personal-Relationships

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Published on 6-9-2015