There are some in the workplace who are actively anti-Christian. They have little use for Jesus Christ and, as one of his people, little use for you. Jesus speaks to this reality in the gospel of Matthew. When sending out his twelve disciples, Jesus says in Matthew 10:16:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
This verse is both a warning about the wolves in your midst and an instruction on how to deal with them. Consider Matthew 10:16 in its five parts.
“I am sending you out”
Jesus sends you and every other Christian out and into the world. In John 17:18 Jesus says to his Father, “I have sent them into the world.” When you go to work every day you are part of the “them.” You are serving God in the workplace which, in many ways, is Christianity’s front line.
Your work is Kingdom work and you are the King’s representative at your place of employment.
“Like sheep among wolves”
Sheep and wolves have different natures. Wolves attack sheep especially the weak and they are ruthless. First John 3:13 confirms this reality when it declares, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”
Since God has purposefully sent you out into the midst of wolves, he now tells you what to do while in their company.
“Be as shrewd as snakes”
Snakes are almost universally disliked, but here in Matthew 10:16 Jesus is applying one of their redeeming attributes which is to know when to avoid confrontation. Snakes excel at self-preservation, and Jesus is telling you to do the same. There will be times in the workplace when it is best to be shrewd and to leave the wolves to themselves.
The fact is you are not required to debate every anti-Christian wolf in every situation that comes your way. Many of these types of debates are a waste of time. Instead, Jesus is instructing us to be shrewd; i.e., skillful, intelligent, and wise, and to use discernment.
This is the same thing Jesus is saying in Matthew 7:6:
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
An unbeliever seeking truth is one thing, but a wolf who is looking for a fight is something different.
“And as innocent as doves”
To be innocent means to be unmixed with evil intent. As one of God’s doves you are equipped to exercise self-control and integrity. Take the high road when responding to the wolves and do not mimic their destructive behavior. Instead, respond to them on God’s terms, in God’s ways, and according to his timing.
Finally, the wolves won’t admit it but doves are respected and admired. People are drawn to doves and you may be the spiritual dove God is using to reach the wolf at your workplace.
First Timothy 2:4 declares that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Maintain a productive work relationship with your anti-Christian co-workers, and when they are ready to listen, tell them how Jesus Christ changed your life for the better.