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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. — Romans 12:12
We gather with military couples every Saturday night for dinner and Bible study. And at the end of our meeting time we take prayer requests—and then pray.
But on this particular Saturday night, a certain prayer request brought some deep discussion.
One of our young military men voiced discouragement over the atmosphere in his workplace on board ship. There was crudeness—to put it mildly. His desire was to be “light in a dark place”. But, in this current culture, what does that really mean for a Christian serving in today’s military?
Of course we all agreed to pray for him—for strength and courage in the power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate what is right and good. But we also discussed some other ideas which would be an encouragement to this sailor and to his shipmates. Perhaps you could agree with these points—and let us know others.
1) Pray. Pray, not only for your own strength, but for those who are careless in their conversation and actions. Pray for the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts to consider different behavior—and, ultimately, to know the peace of Jesus Christ.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
2) Look for ways to bless the others in your workplace. Perhaps a word of encouragement. Perhaps a helping hand. We reminded our friend that “hurt people hurt people”—and we agreed that compassion for others was not always easy.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody” (Romans 12:14,17).
3) Watch your words. Unfortunately it’s common practice these days to speak disrespectfully of your spouse, so we shared how our friend could—in contrast—say kind words about his marriage and his wife. It is also common to complain and grumble about the work and superiors—so the opportunity was there for him to speak positively . . . or at least not to speak negatively and continue the bashing (and sometimes cursing).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19,20).
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—“ (Philippians 2:14-16).
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
4) Excel in your work. Our friend did not really need to be reminded of this—he does exceptional work. But others are watching and are challenged by commitment to a job well done. Integrity is front and center on display when a military member is trained well and desires to perform with excellence in his work environment. And being light in a dark place can start with a pleasant countenance, for a smile at an appropriate time conveys more about contentment in your heart than about a situation.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for me, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23,24).
The definition of integrity goes beyond just being honest. It also speaks to “wholeness” and “soundness”. A Christian of integrity lives what he or she believes—and they become light in a dark place.
It is Jesus Christ we want to put on display in our lives—not ourselves. It is His light we want to shine. So do not underestimate your Christian influence in a work environment. In the end, we can point to Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Questions to Share:
1. When you have worked in a particularly difficult environment, what encouragement gave you hope?
2. Pray for those, perhaps yourself, who are currently serving under difficult conditions . . . to have strength to be the light of Christ in a dark place.