For me, one of the most difficult parts of day to day life is finding myself in a work environment where it seems that foul language, coarse joking, corrupted thinking, and ruthless self-preservation are the orders of the day. In speaking with people who work in rough blue collar jobs and in office jobs, it seems my experience is not uncommon. Perhaps it has been your experience as well.
One day I was reading through 2 Peter and I came across a verse that had never before caught my attention:
...and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials... (2 Peter 2:7-9 ESV)
Lot was distressed every day by the things he saw and heard around him! Does that sound familiar? Can you identify? I know I sure can. Sometimes our workplaces can be the most difficult of environments in which to keep our Christian sanity and composure. When it seems there is no escape and no hint of goodness among the people we work with it can even dampen our spirits to the point that for some, even getting up and going to work can be depressing.
It should not surprise us that being around filthy talk and bad attitudes should affect us so deeply. There is often a strong, even violent reaction, when opposites are forced to mingle, even in nature. In Christ, we are of a different spirit than the spirit which is in those who are without him. The fact that there is such a strong reaction in us in an environment like that should comfort us because it is an indication that we have been changed through Christ Jesus, and are no longer slaves to the passions that govern the rest of the world.
"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galations 5:24 ESV)
But what do we do about? Can we do anything about it?
We are called to live differently in the world. It is part of our living witness of who Jesus and what he has done to redeem us. Yet, the reality is, knowing that we are followers of Christ and no longer enslaved to sinful passion does not always make us feel better about the environment in which we are forced to exist for a season. In fact, it can even make us feel a little worse as we become more and more aware of the clash between the opposite natures of ourselves and the people we associate with.
That said, we can always carry our burdens to God in prayer. Our God calms our anxious spirits, gives peace and purpose, and helps us see our world through his eyes. It is God who changes hearts, but it is through the power of his Holy Spirit in us that we can present him to the world by being salt in a bitter and tasteless world, and light in the dark places in which we work.
As a matter of practical application, consider this. I have discovered that when I purposefully pray for the well-being and salvation of the people who most irk me, I begin to view and treat them differently, with more love and patience than I otherwise would. It also helps me to remember my own salvation, for like you and the people I work around, I am but a breath away from being able to commit great foul sins. It is only by the grace of God that we are able to keep from committing the worst of sins.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.