“Honesty is a great work policy”
The flip side of Solomon’s work coin has to do with honesty. Solomon urges us to remember the “Lord detests” cheating at work. In Solomon’s day this was done by tampering with the scales used to measure the weight of gold, silver or other things. They would make their items weigh more to get more money and make others weigh less so it would cost less. And in doing this they would cheat.
Now this is not what cheating looks like today. It looks very differently but it is still activity which the Lord detests and causes us to lose our impact. Cheating in our day and age can look like the following:
1) Using company time to surf the internet to shop, check sports scores, or do other things which are not a part of your job
2) Borrowing company items without permission.
3) Abusing company items like using a company car for personal use.
4) Stealing in the form of using the company credit card for your own use or your expense account for unrelated things
And the list can go on and on. Many companies are trying to find ways to stop this abuse and deal with the problems it creates.
When I worked in High School at Stop and Shop I had a co-worker not just fired but also charged with stealing. He was not taking money, rather he was taking food of the shelves and eating it for his break. It took them a while to catch on, but when they figured it out they had no idea how much this was costing them.
So where are we acting dishonestly in our work? We must repent of this and live differently. God detests this type of behavior and dishonors the company which is giving us a job.
“Taking Care of Business”
Yesterday we learned two big ideas when it comes to being Wiser with our Work. We will take the first one today. We need to be diligent. But when we say be diligent we need to begin to flesh this out so we know how to live this out. So let me give you a list of what I think this looks like. I would suggest reading through this list and then perhaps you will add to it. The big idea is “God will pour out his favor on those who work diligently”. So we must figure out what this looks like.
Here is my long list. I gave you 5 of these yesterday, but let me add to those 5
1) Show up on Time (what would you do if I was 10 minutes late for the sermon on Sunday??)
2) Determine what is expected and exceed expectations
3) Attitude is Everything
4) Plays nice with fellow workers
5) Honors their supervisors
6) Admit mistakes
7) Shares credit with fellow workers
8) Resolves conflict quickly
9) Volunteers for extra assignments
10) Takes responsibility for getting better
Now again, why does this even matter? It matters because we don’t represent ourselves, we represent Christ. This means we live differently. We behave differently. You might get criticized for working like this. Fellow co-workers might get mad or call you names. Mainly because they look bad. But again, it gives us an open door to explain our motivation. We work this way for Christ.
So let’s work diligently this week.
There are moments in our life when people speak words to us and they are a game changer. They make a huge difference. It was that encouragement which became a valuable asset in our life.
I remember when our church was doing Youth Night and they made (kicking and screaming) me get up and give a short message. I didn’t want to do it. Fortunately I had been to Christian School and our last assignment in speech class was to do a 10 minute devotional. So I had my stuff and just wanted to get through it. There were a couple of individuals who beyond saying “Good Job” really spoke some encouraging words into my life. That made a huge difference!!! I would not be where I am today without it.
I believe we all have these life-giving words to speak into people’s lives. We all have the opportunity to have a moment where the words are life-changing and the impact is for a life-time.
But this takes some effort on our part. We need to be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and ask God to take our words and use them. We must get rid of the garbage words in our life and put them into permanent retirement.
So let’s pray today that God would take our words and make them life-giving.
“Help Me Understand”
One of the things I want to make sure we understand about Proverbs is not all of these work 100% of the time. Solomon is giving wisdom to his son, but we all know some of these things don’t work all the time. That is true of the Proverb today. “A gentle answer turns away wrath”. We probably have all been in situations where it didn’t matter how gentle we were the other person was angry and nothing worked.
However, this should not discourage us from finding a way to have difficult conversations. Strained relationships are difficult and when they are going on inside a community of faith they really must be addressed. Sometime Christians are the worst at holding grudges. I think sometimes it is because we have unrealistic expectations of each other. We assume we will always think alike and we aren’t willing to do the work of unity.
So when you have a difficult conversation to have – what would it look like to start it with “Help me Understand”? I wonder if Solomon’s advice might look like this. By the way he is not saying let people take advantage of you or hurt you. He is saying in a heated situation a gentle answer has a better opportunity to bring about a resolution. Whether it is a conversation with our children or a co-worker, a gentle answer give us the opportunity to make progress.
Think about it. When was the last time you were upset or angry about something and when you went to talk to that person it didn’t go well. Replay that moment and what would have happened if you approached it differently? It may have made a huge difference.
So let’s not be afraid to have difficult conversations. Let’s find ways to break through potentially messy moments with “Help Me Understand”. Let’s refuse to go about broken and find healing.
I believe one of the most destructive things we do with our words is to lie. Lies are the destroyer of relationships. Jesus tried to make sure his followers understood this. He told us Satan was “Father of all lies” and that lying was his language. He then goes on just 2 chapters later in the Gospel of John to tell us the “thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy”. Who is the thief? Satan is the thief and one of his most destructive weapons is lying.
All of us have been guilty of lying and have been the victims of people lying to us. It is one of the most painful things which can happen in a relationship. Think about it for a moment. The last time your kids lied to you, remember that hurt. Or how about the time when your spouse lied to you? You were deeply hurt. Why? Because a relationship was damaged. I have talked to parents who have gotten to a point of not believing their kids. What an awful place to be.
My wife experienced this a couple of years ago and to watch the hurt experienced over lying was hard. She was lied to by a relative over a period of 6 months. Huge damage. I remember her telling me one night how she couldn’t believe they would do this to her. Lies are that damaging.
So what are we going to do? We have to choose to be truthful. We must understand as Jesus taught “the truth sets us free” and lies put us in prison. We must make an effort to understand how important the truth is. We also must make sure our kids understand it. The punishment should always be more severe for lying then had they come clean in the beginning. They must understand lying destroys relationships.
Solomon told his son “The Lord detests lying lips”. God hates lying. God hates when we destroy relationships.
So let’s make a new effort today to be truthful. Let’s make honesty our new policy and see the difference it can make. May we put lying lips behind us and press forward into the truth.
Words are important. Ask 13 year old Arvind Mahankal if words are important. He spelled the word “Knaidel” correctly and won $30,000 in cash and prizes. Words are important. Our words have the chance to hurt or heal. According to studies we use between 10,000 – 16,000 words a day. And most of those words, if we are honest, are carelessly spoken. We most likely don’t remember 1/3 of the words which come out of our mouths on a daily basis. But our words are making an impact on our spouse, children, co-workers and friends.
So in response to all these words what are we to do? Solomon left some key advice to his son about how to be wiser with our words. So let me just remind you of all 4 of these statements and we will take them one by one this week.
Let my words be Few
Let my words be True
Let my words be Gentle
Let my words be Life-Giving.
Let my words be Few.
“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 10:19
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28
Do you remember a time when you tried to talk your way out of trouble and had you just stopped things would have been better? We probably all remember doing this. Or how about a time when you said something and wish you wouldn’t have said it? I found a illustration I used with the students at VCA. We took a tube of toothpaste and squeezed it out and then I gave them toothpicks and had them try to put it back in. Amazing how hard they tried and it wouldn’t go back. Our words are the same. You can’t take them back. You can’t reel them back in. So we must be careful what we say.
Perhaps our problem isn’t we are not saying enough words but saying too many. Perhaps instead of using more words we should make our point and be done. I was watching a debate recently and the other person reinforced his argument instead of just throwing out more and more words. We was wiser with his words and it had a big impact on that debate.
Think about elections for a moment. How many promises are made and then broken? Many!! Politicians say more and more words hoping to convince us they will be the best candidate for us. Perhaps we should ask for few words and truer words.
So today stop and think about those 10,000 words coming out of your mouth. Let your words be few. Might stay out of trouble.
Jesus Follower, Husband, Father, and Pastor and trying to keep those in the right order....