A Line of People Waiting to Get Into a Bank

Asymmetrical – Living in a lopsided world

Years ago, I did a project in San Bernardino, California where I learned the world was not asymmetrical. It was a massive project, so I spent six months living bi-coastal – well, coastal and corn. Anyway, the company that was the buyer hired a consulting company to make sure my employer did everything the client expected from this.

At one point in the project, I had a very different perspective than the auditing consultant. We went into an empty office, closed the door, and I prepared to show the consultant the section in the contract that validated my perspective. Instead, the consultant stopped me and said, “I know the contract, I know the company you work for, and I know my client. The client is the big dog. This world is not symmetrical.” That was the end of the discussion. I was right, but the client was still going to get what they wanted.

I learned a lot from that conversation. And, I’ve reminded my kids many times that this world is not symmetrical. We rarely get as much as we give. And, when wrestling with a “big dog,” there will be times when you have to let go. 

When it comes to Jesus, there can be no compromise

When it comes to Jesus, there can be no compromise. However, there’s a broad range of issues that we can damage the advancement of Christ’s Gospel if we dig our heals in. Here are a couple of examples:

2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV), “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

Acts 15:19-20 (ESV), “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

Acts 16:1-3 (ESV), “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Timothy, a Christian of good reputation, was known by the Jews. Paul intended to preach in synagogs on his upcoming missionary trip so he had Timothy circumcised even though Paul could have argued that Timothy only needed to be obedient to the things listed in Acts 15. We could dig deeper and compare Timothy with Titus (Galatians 2:1) but that’s a lesson for another time.

Not Everything is Beneficial

1 Corinthians 10:23-24, says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

Here’s the bottom line: this world is not symmetrical. There are times when the right thing to do is give up our rights, so we are not hindered from proclaiming salvation through Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.

The Gospel comes before our rights. Compromise Truth; never! Go to the back of the line when we are next in line? Sure, why not? The time I have belongs to God. If he wants to promote me, great, if not, I’ll catch up on some emails while I wait.

Photo by Melanie Pongratz on Unsplash

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Sometimes it is right not to demand your rights.

While I was still working, I made a trip to our office in the Philippines (see picture). I intended to help the team understand how important they were, how much we appreciated their contribution to our success, and to help me learn any frustrations or inefficiencies that our U.S. team was inadvertently causing.

On my second or third day with them, I asked if I could sit with each of them while they handled work assignments that they received from our U.S. team. As soon as I sat with the first team member, I could tell I was doing something culturally wrong.

I found the operations manager and explained my plan. He said, “Oh, no, that will never work.” They saw me as a person in a different “class” from them, so they were disturbed and afraid by me going to their cube and “chatting” with them. Instead, I had to sit in my “big office” and have each person, one by one, come to me and explain the work they did. I complied, and it all worked out.

I needed to sit and watch how they worked. I had the right to do that. I had participated in the hiring process of these employees, and their salaries were paid out of my budget. Nevertheless, for the sake of harmony, I had to comply. It is appropriate to surrender our rights, from time to time, for the sake of harmony. We do this so that we may keep our witness and preach Jesus and the cross.

How did my acquiescence help further the gospel? Well, when I was back in the U.S., I could Instant Message each person. We developed some rapport. Shortly after my return, these wonderful people were hit by a massive typhoon.

Some of my Filipino team members had family members killed by that storm. I was able to tell individuals that I was praying for them, other members of my U.S. team chatted and prayed for them, and we took up a donation which we sent to them.

You see, we do not need or want distractions. Jesus showed us this, and it’s recorded in Matthew 17:24-27.

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

I have a framed poster that the employees of my first real company gave to me which says, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” There’s a lot of truth in that one sentence.

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