Monday, March 5, 2012

Gentle and Calm or In Your Face

I was reading something today that really made me think about how we talk to others. In Matthew 17:24-27, Peter asks Jesus about paying taxes. Jesus first makes a comparison between earthly kingdoms and heavenly kingdoms. Jesus tells Peter where he can find money for the tax. But first, and this is what I thought was particularly relevant, Jesus says “But so that we may not cause offense…” Another version says, “not to offend.” In other places, Jesus emphasized treating others gently (Matthew 11:28-30 and 12:20). What’s interesting is that Jesus did not treat everyone gently. In Matthew 12, he had strong words for the religious leaders. He drove merchants and money changers out of the temple with a whip! Why were those circumstances different? Why was it ok to offend in some situations but not in others?

I think there is at least one difference between the times where Jesus is confrontational and the times when he does not want to offend that is relevant for us. When it comes to sharing God’s kingdom, Jesus is bold and unapologetic. When it comes to talking to people in day-to-day interactions, especially if those people are not in powerful positions, he is gentle and careful to not offend.

In terms of relating to us and to our workplaces, when you are telling people about your faith, you should be bold and unapologetic. When you are confronting something that is wrong (such as unethical business practices), you should be courageous and true. When it comes to other interactions, you should be gentle and look to not offend.

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