Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
Paul is crystal clear in today’s passage that Christians are called to expose darkness. To, as pastor Timothy Keller says, “bring every dimension of life…under the rule and law of God.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that we hold non-Christians to the same standard as Christians (see 1 Corinthians 5:12). But we can still expose darkness and fight for kingdom principles without appealing directly to “the rule of God” with our non-believing co-workers. Why? Because as C.S. Lewis says, Christian or not, “human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.” Your co-workers likely agree that discrimination, fraud, and lying are wrong, even if you don’t quote the myriad of Scriptures that call these things sin.
So if we aren’t going to run around saying, “Because the Bible tells me so,” how can we expose the darkness we see at work? Scripture gives us a terrific case study to help answer that question in Nehemiah 5.
Some people had come to Nehemiah to complain that “their fellow Jews” were charging them interest (see Nehemiah 5:1-5). This was a serious violation of God’s law as outlined in Deuteronomy 23:19-20. What did Nehemiah do in response to this “darkness”? Five things.
First, Nehemiah got “very angry” (see Nehemiah 5:6). Not anger that led to sin. But righteous anger at something that went against the Lord’s commands.
Second, Nehemiah “pondered” the situation in his mind (see Nehemiah 5:7). He didn’t respond immediately. He was “quick to listen, [and] slow to speak” (see James 1:19).
Third, Nehemiah made an explicit accusation saying, “You are charging your own people interest!…What you are doing is not right” (see Nehemiah 5:7-9).
Fourth, Nehemiah spelled out what needed to happen to right the wrong, saying, “let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them” (see Nehemiah 5:10-11).
And finally, Nehemiah held the guilty parties accountable. After they promised to repent, Nehemiah brought others in to hear the people “take an oath to do what they had promised” (see Nehemiah 5:12-13).
Where do you see sin and darkness in your office or industry? Take a moment to ask the Lord whether or not he’s calling you to follow Nehemiah’s framework to expose that darkness for his greater glory.