[The writer prefers to remain anonymous. He has held jobs as a businessman, school-teacher, and other positions.]

At 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, an alarm clock can be a repulsive thing. I sometimes imagine the inventor of the loud buzzer type, snickering as he contemplates millions of people being jolted out of bed.

As you sit on the edge of the bed telling yourself, “You have to get up,” you think about how quickly the weekend flew by. Saturday you had fixed the leaky faucet and changed the oil in the car. Sunday you had gone to church and then watched some football, but now it is Monday.

You stumble to the kitchen, put on the coffee, then dress for work. As you do so, you remember the preacher’s lesson from the day before. He had used a passage in 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” The preacher had said, “Whatever situation you find yourself in, ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do if He were in my place?’ Then act accordingly.” He said we must walk as Jesus did, if we claimed Him as our Savior.

As you sit down to a hot cup of coffee and an open Bible, you ask the Lord to answer a specific question. How can a person walk as Jesus walked, in the workplace?

Is Work a Curse?

Part of the answer involves our attitude toward work. The Christian should not consider work as a curse, or as punishment from God because of man’s sin. God had planned for man to work before man was ever created. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’” (Gen. 1:26). Man was to rule over the creation of God. This verse shows man as a manager or caretaker of all that God had made. In Genesis 2:8, 15 we see one of the first business partnerships. “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and. . . the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” God planted the garden and man was to take care of it. All of this occurred before man disobeyed so work is certainly not punishment for sin. God created work, and in Genesis 1:31 we read that everything God had made was very good!

Knowing that work is ordained of God, we should not view it as a drudgery. We should instead look for God’s purpose for us in our work, as we strive to walk as Jesus walked.

Sharing Our Faith

How should the Christian respond to a heathen work force? Oftentimes our co-workers have no love for God, no grasp of the saving power of Jesus, no realization that they even need a Savior, and no interest in hearing about any of it from usl How do we tell them about Jesus and still maintain a solid working relationship with them? Colossians 4:3-6 is especially appropriate. Note Paul’s points.

Follow Paul’s lead and pray for open doors or opportunities to share your faith. Remember our struggle is a spiritual one. Our own intellect and wit will not yield very much fruit unless our efforts are bathed in prayer. Pray for one opening, one contact, one specific individual to touch each day. Then pray for wisdom to say the things you should.

Paul also encourages us to be wise in the way we act toward outsiders or non-Christians. The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom concerning interacting with people. Proverbs 9:7-8 says, “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Many of the people we work with will mock our faith in Christ and many are just downright wicked. Solomon warns us not to rebuke these or they will hate us. It’s hard to reach someone for Christ when they hate you. We need to maintain a congenial relationship with our co-workers if we ever hope to influence them for the Lord.

Then Paul gives us some more guidelines. He says, “Make the most of every opportunity.” When God provides the opportunity for which you have been praying, don’t become fearful and pass it up. I believe the fear we sometimes experience is put in our hearts by Satan. He does not want the good news to spread. In fact, he actively tries to stop us from sharing our faith. A traveling consultant was helping my company set up their new computer systems. His marriage had recently fallen apart, and he was hooked on cigarettes and pornography. Every night he would buy a bottle of bourbon or vodka, and get drunk. Frequently he would talk of prostitutes he had purchased. As this man sat there lamenting his life, he wondered aloud if life was worth it. He actually sat in my office and talked of suicide. All the while I’m sitting there thinking “This man really needs to know the Lord,” but he was the “expert consultant” and I was the employee, so I cowered out! I let the fear of rejection Satan had put in my heart prevent that man from hearing about the peach that Jesus wants to offer to him. Two months later, I heard this same man had a very severe form of cancer and would probably die within a year. “Make the most of every opportunity!”

Talk that’s Gracious and Salty

Paul’s phrase, “Let your conversation…” tells us he assumed his readers would talk to these “outsiders.” Perhaps this assumption was drawn from Jesus’ own life. Jesus had been criticized for associating with publicans, harlots, and Samaritans. These were “sinners” and a respectable Rabbi would avoid these inferiors, but Jesus said He had come to seek and to save the lost. As we walk in the steps of Jesus, we are called to do the same. We need to rub elbows with people who do not know our Lord. Romans 12 cautions us not to conform to the world, but how can we hope to introduce people to Christ if we refuse to even talk to them?

Paul’s advice continues, “Let your conversation be always full of grace. Our message should not be one of condemnation, but rather a promise of hope. Offer the world a way out of this mess. Tell them God cares about their troubles so much He provided grace for anyone who will accept Jesus. Then don’t be surprised when they begin to turn to you for advice.

The most enlightening phrase of these verses is “seasoned with salt.‘ Salt is used in water purification systems and to preserve meat. Our conversations should lead to the purification and preservation of our listeners. “Seasoned” has a pleasant connotation. Seasoning makes food more appealing. We should try to make the gospel appealing through our life-style and outreach methods. We must be tactful as we present Christ to anyone. To lay down the law or tell folks they are going straight to hell unless they accept Christ is hardly “seasoning” your conversation. You may be speaking the truth, but you are also losing your audience.

Practical Steps

How can we season our conversation with salt in our workplace? Let people know you are a Christian. I’ve heard people say they “witness by their example.” If people know you follow Christ then this argument has some merit. However, if the people with whom you associate don’t positively know you are a Christian, the only thing your good conduct bears witness to is yourself, and the “witness by example” argument loses all of its merit.

To let people know you are a Christian does not mean you have to continually preach to your peers and rebuke sin. Try dropping key words. Mention in the flow of conversation words like “church,” “preacher,” or “prayer:’ You might say something like this, “A friend of mine at church was talking about this Iranian thing. He said. . .” Or, “My preacher is really a basketball fan.” People pick up on these words. They probably won’t say anything, but from that time forward they will be watching your life to see how this “churchgoer” reacts to different situations. Try taking a godly stand on social issues like abortion or pornography. And then wait for them to ask you why you believe as you do.

A friend of mine takes this one step further by setting bait for people. When people ask him how he’s doing, he always says, “I’m happy.” This response frequently prompts people to ask why he’s so happy, so he tells them about the difference Jesus has made in his life. He not only seizes every opportunity to answer questions, he purposefully makes opportunities to arouse questions and then to share Christ. Another way you can show priorities to your associates is to take religious materials to work to read on your lunch hour. Keep a Bible in your desk or a good Christian book you’ve been wanting to read. You don’t have to push the material on others, just let them see you reading it. They will probably start asking questions eventually, but somehow they must be made aware that you claim Christ as your personal Lord.

Well, you’re nearly late for work. Why don’t you finish your coffee and commit your day to the Lord in prayer? Ask Him to help you “walk as Jesus walked,” and remember to take advantage of every opportunity the Lord gives you.