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I received a question from a listener who asked: “What is a loving Christian way of dealing with work issues in which one feels ‘dumped on’?” She went on to say that as a nurse, she occasionally works charge duty, a job no one really likes. Because others protest their turn at being charge nurse for the shift, she ends up working far more than she should. She said, “It’s high pressure, very tiring and I find myself getting angry at the inequity. How should one address such a grievance—short of simply burning out and quitting?”
Well, she poses a good question: Are Christians supposed to be doormats? This is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:38-41).
It might be easy to read this passage and think that Jesus is teaching us to let people take advantage of us. Is that true? Well, I think the answer has to be “yes.” To turn the other cheek, to relinquish your rights, to voluntarily do more than is demanded is, in the world’s perspective, to allow others to take advantage of you. And most people have a difficult time swallowing that pill.
But one of the distinguishing marks we bear as Christians in a world consumed with getting what’s coming to them and taking care of number one, is a willingness to go the extra mile, even to the point of someone taking advantage of us.
In studying Genesis, I was reminded of how Isaac was taken advantage of. He dug some wells that his father, Abraham, had dug and then his enemy came along and said, “Hey, that’s our well. Move on.” That happened to him twice, and he could have started a war over the wells; he certainly had a right to those wells and had done all the dirty work to dig them. I imagine the enemy thought he was a pushover because he refused to fight for his wells.
But eventually God gave him the best well in the best location, and blessed him abundantly, much more than his enemies. Isaac was willing to wait on God’s timing and purpose, even if it meant being dumped on.
Is someone dumping on you? Ask God to give you patience and endurance to withstand it with gentleness. But maybe not forever.