Sarah from Sarah Bee Creations reminded me the other day of a simple little mental tool I sometimes use to get my moral bearings.
Sarah was talking about the struggle to do the ‘right’ thing in the real world. How do you balance your faith with the demands of keeping your job so you can be responsible and pay the bills?
Talking about her husband, she said:
…he is constantly torn by the expectations of his position to sometimes sell things in an unethical manner in order to keep his job and his desire to care for his family. Is it ethical to walk away from your financial obligations if your means of meeting those obligations requires you to act in an unethical manner?
Please don’t think in any way that I am attacking Sarah or trying to belittle her faith. She has been very honest in writing about this and I wouldn’t write this to in any way attack her or her husband but rather, I want to use them to illustrate a struggle we all have.
I look at that statement above and it is perfectly clear to me what the answer is but, unfortunately, our human minds and hearts don’t think as clearly once we are knee-deep in a situation like this.
They need to pay the bills. Her husband has the weight of expectation from his family that there will be a roof over his head and food on the table next week – this is real and raw. It gets right down to our most basic instincts of protecting and caring for our loved ones.
What might seem clear to an outside observer seems very different to someone right in the thick of it with their family’s health and security on the line.
It’s at these time that I recommend the “What if God were standing there” test.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we are Sarah’s husband and we are faced with a situation where we are being asked to do something unethical – and we believe that it could cost us our job to not do what we’re being asked to do.
Now imagine that God strikes up a conversation:
“Are you going to do that?” Asks God.
“Umm, well, I know it’s wrong but I kind of HAVE to”, we reply.
“Why do you have to?”
“Because if I don’t, I’ll lose my job and I have a family to feed, clothe and house – and they’re relying on me!”
“Is doing this the right thing to do?”
“Well… No, not really but I figure it’s better to do something a little unethical and be able to continue to fulfil my financial obligations than lose my job and default on my loans.”
“So… you think that it is better to sin than to stay pure and holy and trust me to look after you? You think I’d rather you sin than have to rely on me for your needs?”
“Umm… well… when you put it THAT way…”
You see, when I turn and ask God his opinion, things become a lot easier and clearer. However, it still takes a lot of faith, obedience, trust and guts to follow through with doing the right thing!
There is a cost to following Jesus – and sometimes that cost can be very high. However high the cost is though, it never comes anywhere close to the price that Jesus paid to save us.
Yes, doing what the Holy Spirit tells us is right can sometimes mean that we lose out on some of the things of this world – but it’s worth it! God never promised that it would be easy and he never promised that we would have everything just the way we want it. In fact, Jesus told us quite the opposite:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
Peter then reminds us of that saying:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:12-16
Take the What if God Were Standing There test next time you have a tricky situation. Imagine that conversation with God and it may just help you to make the right choice. Maybe not the easy choice or the popular choice but the RIGHT one!
15 Reply to “What if God Were Standing There?”
That is a great concept. Much better than WWJD which I think leaves us asking the wrong question. "Would Jesus beat a man to death? No? Well I guess I'll just keep hating him on the inside."
I'd never looked at WWJD like that before… or maybe I just would have thought "Would Jesus beat a man to death? No? Oh, yeah, he'd love him and care for him and do all he could to share the good news with him"
I guess WWJD only works if you take it further than outward actions and look at the WHOLE of what Jesus would do. I guess a lot of people have no idea how to do that (and those of us who do are imperfect and will probably get it wrong half the time!)
Thanks, Nick… you've given me much to think about
I agree that WWJD done right works, but most people who actually think abot it wait until they are in a situation and ask if this is what Jesus would do? I think we should be more concerned with what he would be doing and then go do those things instead of what he wouldn't do.
Definitely a tricky situation (at least as far as advice goes). This has to be from a position of faith and confidence in God. I think this particular situation requires a lot of prayer. God could help Sarah’s husband to outsell and do it ethically, being a light to everyone involved. Or they may need to pray that he gets a new job if he has to violate God’s word to do this one. God’s faithful to lead and guide us if we listen for His voice (and man, am I glad!). Thanks Peter.
You're right… I do understand that there is much more to the story than I know from her one blog post and, regardless, they need to follow the Holy Spirit's leading on this.
I used it as an example and I tried not to say "this is what they should do" because I don't know the whole situation, haven't talked to them and haven't spent any time in prayer over it.
Who knows what the conversation with God will bring? Once we start talking to him, he has a way of working in incredible ways!
You rock, Pastor Jason!!!!!
Sorta funny- I knew you said the story was being used for generalized purposes, but I couldn’t shake the thought of Sarah and her husband. My heart just went out to them. I guess maybe I really am a pastor. 🙂 God has done a great work in me!
yes, we do get caught up. good thoughts.
I love those words in John 16…
Good thoughts, Peter.
But God IS standing there…
We just choose not to notice sometimes.
There are some HUGE theological concepts that I left wide open for people to comment on!
I'm glad you picked up on one of them! 🙂
It gets a little complicated if you consider where Sarah and her family lives. If they're in a first world country, finding a job may not be that hard. But if she's from a third world country where unemployment is higher, the whole situation is totally different. I'm from a third world country in Asia where 200-300 people would line up to apply for a secretarial job. If I was in their position, I also wouldn't know what to do.
Why didn't you post this last week? I sure could have used it. I was put into a position this week where I had to make a choice similar to this one. It wasn't regarding a job, but possibly losing a very important relationship and hurting someone very close to me (nothing regarding my marriage or anything). I am pleased to say that I chose to stand my ground in what I believed to be right based on my faith. We haven't finished working through it, but I just know that somewhere down the line this will be a blessing from God.
See… You didn’t need it last week. You’ve got it covered! 🙂
Amen! We spend so much time trying to eliminate pain, and it gets us no where! What if we learned to deal with the trials and pains we are inevitably going to have? It would revolutionize our lives!