But part way into the strike, Alderson began taking an approach of reconciliation with the union.
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Each year the state of Pennsylvania selects a man of the year for labor; today, forty years later, it remains true that Alderson is the only person from management to receive this honor. We are agents to bring reconciliation to all spheres of the world. There are three essential elements of the work of reconciliation.
First, we must understand accurately what has gone wrong among people, God, and the creation. Second, we must love other people and work to benefit them rather than to judge them. If we condemn the people in our workplaces or withdraw from the daily places of life and work, we are regarding people and work from a human point of view.
As we noted earlier in 2 Cor. We might say that his life was an open book before them. Though he adds nothing new to what he has said previously, it becomes more and more apparent how important the topic of transparency is for him. When questions arise about his ministry, he can appeal to his earlier dealings with the Corinthians with absolute certainty that he has always been honest with them about himself.
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Can we say the same of ourselves? This has implications for both marriage which is outside our scope here and working relationships. Up to this point, Paul has vividly portrayed the importance of good relationships with the people with whom we live and work. Paul says in 1 Cor. Here, Paul cautions us about working arrangements with non-believers, invoking a reference to Deuteronomy which warns against plowing with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
What does it mean to be unequally yoked? Jesus, like the lead ox in a team, determines our bearing, pace, and path, and we submit to his leadership. Through his yoke, we feel his pull, his guidance, his direction.
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By his yoke, he trains us to work effectively in his team. His yoke is what leads us, sensitizes us, and binds us to him. No other yoke that would pull us away from the yoke of Jesus could ever be equal to that!
Yet the work we are doing with him is no less than the transformation of the entire cosmos. This has a strong ethical element.
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We probably would—and should—do all we can to avoid working with those who would force us to act against our beliefs. But short of that, many of the motivations, values, and working methods of our supervisors and colleagues in most workplaces may not be compatible with our beliefs as Christians.
And the environment and beliefs of those you work with may have a negative influence on your faith and experience of the Christian life. Nonetheless, most of us work among unbelievers, which as we have noted, Paul assumes is the normal situation for Christians. Then how are we to apply his prohibition against unequal yoking? Employment is an agreement in which you do the agreed upon work in return for the agreed upon remuneration.
To the extent that you are able to voluntarily and justly terminate this contract in the event it becomes damaging to you or others, you are free to un-yoke. How do you know whether it is necessary to un-yoke or end an employment arrangement? We will look at two very different situations. First, imagine you are employed by an organization that is generally ethical, but you are surrounded by people who do not believe as you do and whose influence is damaging your own faith life.
This discernment may be different for different believers.
Some are able to maintain their faith in the midst of temptations and unbelief all around them, and others are not. On the other hand, others are able to work in the midst of those temptations as a witness to the truth and love and hope of the gospel. Usually they need someone outside the temptations of their workplace to help them maintain their faith. Esther is an interesting example of this kind of situation. God called her into the harem of King Ahasuerus so that she would be able to serve as protector of her Jewish people Esther Esther had considerable influence with the king but was also extremely vulnerable to his displeasure.
If you take on expenses and debts up to, or even above, your level of income, any job can quickly become a kind of unequal yoking. Adopting a more modest standard of living and building up ample savings—if possible—may make it much easier to remain yoked with Christ if things go bad at work.
It would be a much more equal partnership in terms of power, but equally risky in terms of ethics. When one partner signs a contract, spends money, buys or sells property—or violates the law—the other partner is bound by that action or decision. This kind of partnership could be more like the ox and the donkey — two partners pulling in opposite directions. Moreover, we know from experience that even partnerships between two believers also include some risk, given that Christians continue to be sinners too. All business partnerships, then, require wisdom and discernment and both the ability and the willingness to terminate the partnership if necessary, even if doing so would be very costly.
There are many other kinds of working relationships, of course, including buying and selling, investing, contracting and subcontracting, and trade associations. In all these relationships, the danger increases when we become more dependent on them than on Christ. We cannot judge or condemn nonbelievers as inherently unethical because Paul himself refused to do so. Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? We are called not to judge, but to discern whether our work is fulfilling the purposes and ways of Christ.
Immediately after admonishing the Corinthians, Paul praises them. It may come as a surprise for some to find Paul boasting so unapologetically about the church in Corinth. This was a congregation beset with many difficulties, and there are some stinging rebukes in his letters to them. He wears no rose-colored glasses when it comes to the Corinthians.
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But Paul is entirely unabashed by such concerns. He does not shy away from giving praise where praise is due, and it seems that he is genuinely proud of the progress the believers in Corinth have made in spite of his tense relations with them. He notes his pride in them is well deserved, not a cheap trick of flattery 2 Cor. This reminds us of the importance of specific, accurate, and timely praise for co-workers, employees, and others with whom we interact at work. Inflated or generalized praise is hollow and may seem insincere or manipulative.
And unrelenting criticism destroys rather than builds up. But words of genuine appreciation and gratitude for work well done are always appropriate. They are evidence of mutual respect, the foundation of true community, and they motivate everyone to continue their good work. Paul begins this section by pointing to the exemplary generosity of the churches in Macedonia and implying that he expects no less from the Corinthians.
In the workplace, a generous spirit is the oil that makes things run smoothly on a number of levels. Workers who are generous with their co-workers will create a ready source of help for themselves and a more joyful and satisfying experience for everyone.
Generosity is not always a matter of money. Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that they had already signaled their intentions to participate in the collection for the churches in Judea during the previous year. What we start we should finish.
2 Corinthians and Work | Bible Commentary | Theology of Work
Paul reminds us of the need to carry through on our commitments. Other people are counting on us. This advice may seem too simple to need mentioning in the word of God. Yet Christians underestimate how important this is as a matter of witness, in addition to productivity.
Better to deliver a report, a part, or a raise on time than to deliver a lunchtime argument for the divinity of Christ. Paul reminds the Corinthians of the underlying principle behind the collection.
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