Office politics circuit breaker

Everyone who has ever worked in a white collar job would have had to deal with politics at some point in time.

The easiest trap to fall into in office politics is make enemies of your colleagues. Common symptoms include gossiping, rumour milling, backstabbing, taking vengeance, blaming a scapegoat… And the list goes on.

“It’s always easy to play a person rather than to play an issue and if you can find a ‘culprit’ to blame all of your woes on it enables you to avoid actually confronting the issues at hand,”
– Kim Williams former head of News Corp

But the bible gives us a different view of how we ought to relate to one another, whether in an office or at home.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it the the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for by so doing you ill heap burning coals on his head” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
– Romans 12:17-21 (ESV)

These behaviours are enacted “in view of God’s mercy” (Romans 12:1). These actions are deliberate and come from the inside; they are not just rules to follow or behaviours to act out. Overcoming evil with good needs to come from a genuine heart.

It might not always be easy but these things that glorify God are worth pursuing and even enjoying.

See also: Philippians 2:3-4

Day Three

God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: plants yielding seeds according to their kinds,and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” It was so. The land produced vegetation – plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
Genesis 1:11-13

Continuing on from His work in creating land, God now creates vegetation for the land. There are a few things to note here:

  • Vegetation was produced in abundance. There is a Hebrew word play here that gives us this idea, Genesis 1:11 reads “Let the earth sprout vegetation” (ESV). The word “sprout” (dasha – דשא) is the verb form of the word “vegetation” (deshe’ – דשא) (
  • Vegetation didn’t evolve from one kind to have different species and kinds. Vegetation was created in abundance of variety. The emphesis on “according to their kinds” tells us that there were multiple kinds. Perhaps evolution could have happened from this point, who knows?
  • There was order, not chaos. God created a system of reproduction – plants yielding seeds that become plants. He also distinguished and defined different “kinds” of plants. We clearly see a defined variety of forms and beings of plants, each kind distinguishable from another and a system of reproduction.
  • Vegetation came out all over the earth. Although the text seems to read land as if it were only dry land (as opposed to the seabed), the word “land” here refers to the whole earth. It is the same word used in Genesis 1:1. That pretty much explains all the seaweeds and water plants as well.
  • Creation happened exactly as God desired and spoke. God spoke plants, plants came out. He spoke that they yielded seeds, and they did. He spoke that it was according to their kinds and it was so. Creation exists exactly according to God’s desires. Once again, stressing on God’s sovereignty.

In day three, we see something interesting about God (again). His creative powers are not limited to one a day, nor are they limited to one thing at a time. Our God is a limitless God. And at the end of the day, God again pronounced that creation was good. This is the second time in the day that He has pronounced His creation good. Good is the is an indication of the positive quality of what God created. Plants weren’t just plants, they were beneficial and fertile plants (Genesis 2:9).

Day Two

God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate water from water. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expense from the water above it. It was so. God called the expanse “sky”. There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.

God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.” It was so. God called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters he called “seas”. God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:6-10

On day zero, God created the God created the universe. And on the second day, He made light and time. He also defined light and darkness, distinguishing between them. We must remember that these things didn’t exist before God came along and light and darkness wasn’t defined. Everything was pretty much an undefined mess of stuff before day one.

Now on day two, God created again with just His speech. This time, God created the sky. This he created as a separation between the waters above and below. And on day three, God gathered the waters below into seas so that dry ground appeared. At the end of the third day, the planet is ready to support life. It seemed that this has been the plan all this while. God considered again and concluded that His creation was good.

Pause for awhile and think:

  • God separated the water. God gathered the water. In that way He created sky and land. His creative work isn’t restricted to creating something out of nothing. Here he manipulates a single substance, creating two different things. In three days, He has displayed three different ways of creating.
  • First God considered the light good. Now, He considered the sky, land and sea good. This was God’s reflection of His own work. It was good simply because it was His own work. Creation didn’t need to be complete (we know now that he wasn’t done creating at this point) for it to be good. It simply needed to be His handiwork.

We start seeing the trend here: he creates out of nothing (before this, there was no expanse), he then defines and names. All the while showing God is the central character in creation. It all begins with Him and He is sovereign over all of creation.

Because of joy 4

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea that caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, they pulled it ashore, sat down, and put the good fish into containers and threw the bad away. It will be this way at the end of the age. Angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:48-50

The final parable in this set of three teaches us a similar lesson to the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43), and seen in the context of the 3 parables put together, we see God’s final act after the redemption of Israel (depicted as hidden treasure) and the Gentiles (depicted as pearls). This act is the separation of the evil from the righteous. The symbolism here is obvious, the net represents the gospel, the sea as the world and the fish as the souls of men.

Once again, a few things are noted here:

All kinds of fish were caught

This develops the evidence that the gospel goes out not just to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles (Matthew 15:22,28:19). It could also be a picture of the various forms of “salvation” as depicted by the farmer who sows the seed (Matthew 13:1-23). In the light of Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the weeds, where the variety is seen as “people of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38) and “people of the evil one” (Matthew 13:39), it would be a closer fit to view this passage as talking about the variety of believers and non-believers who hear the message. For hearing is not necessarily understanding and understanding the gospel is crucial (Matthew 13:14-17; 19-23).

The nets are brought in only when they are full – at the end of the age

Similar to Matthew 13:28-30, the judgement of all things belong to Christ when He comes again. We do not separate the evil from the good now, instead we live together on this earth. We are not to judge others as unelect or unsaved, but to leave that judgement to Christ. We do not remove ourselves from the world or try to remove ourselves from the presence of so called “wicked” people. In fact, the inverse is needed; we should be amongst them to reconcile them to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).

The nets were pulled ashore and the fishermen sat down

Where in previous parables there was only one sole protagonist, it seems that there are many here. The common interpretation of fishermen in the New Testament are believers or “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), but this parable offers a distinctly different view that the fishermen are symbolic of angels. Sitting down is a picture of rest and judgement – kings sat down when they judged over matters in their kingdom. Christ and his fishermen will complete the fishing in entirety, with the nets pulled ashore, and sit down to judge the quality of the fish (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

The fiery furnace of weeping and gnashing of teeth

The words here mirror Matthew 13:42 exactly. While the Parable of the weeds was delivered to the public, the Parable of the Nets is delivered only to the disciples. The disciples were very familiar with the symbolism since at least four of them were fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22). They easily understood the gravity of the parable (Matthew 13:43, “He who has ears, let him hear”). If they didn’t get any of the other parables, at least get this: that the end will not be sweet for the wicked.

This is a sobering message to believers and non-believers alike. For believers, bring the gospel to those family and friends who are not yet saved with urgency for we know their final destiny. For non-believers, I plead with you to be found in Christ, to be placed in the container marked “safe” (Genesis 7:1-10; 2 Peter 3:2-7).

Quiet and loud

The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Zephaniah 3:17 NASB

God isn’t just ok or lukewarm towards me. There is no way that anyone can read that verse and think that God tolerates me or permits me to live. No. God rejoices over me. The joy He feels overflows. There is a huge party going on in heaven because what was once lost is now redeemed by the work of Christ. This is truly undeserved grace.

It says that He is quiet in His love and rejoices with shouts of joy. He is both quiet and shouting with joy. Who can rejoice with shouts of joy and savour joy with quietness at the exact same time? Who else but God. He can, simply because He is God.

This week has been very trying. I was told that I might not have a job at the end of the month. Hurtful words were said to me. Yet when I come to God with all my troubles, I know that God is good and that He rejoices in me. When I am defeated and down, the words “victorious warrior” stand out to me. He isn’t a defeated warrior or once-was-great retired veteran, he is the victorious warrior. This warrior rejoices in me. Wow.

It is Friday. TGIF. I’ve been carried through this week by His word. Here are a few that carried me through.

You are good, and you do good;
Psalm 119:68

When the fig tree does not bud,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
when the olive trees do not produce,
and the fields yield no crops;
when the sheep disappear from the pen,
and there are no cattle in the stalls,
I will rejoice because of the Lord;
I will be happy because of the God who delivers me!
Habakkuk 3:17-18