Last night in our women’s study group we discussed Acts 13. In this chapter Paul and Barnabas are called by the Holy Spirit to start the ministry that He has for them. As we discussed the questions the Lord had given us, we found ourselves talking about being in the world. Most of the ladies there work full time jobs and are constantly faced with the world and its immoral ways. Being in the world is difficult as a Christian. We desire to live a godly life, but are faced with lunchroom gossip, backstabbing co-workers, and daily we are faced with the reality of sin. But, God has called us to be separate, to step out of that and into Him. How then do we do that? How do we separate ourselves from the world that we must work in every day?
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Acts 13:2
“Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17
Separate, in this context, means to be set apart for a purpose, it is a divine action of separation. How many of us would love to have the Lord divinely separate us from the daily grind of our jobs! When I worked in the corporate world, every day I was faced with temptation, sin, pride and all the ungodliness that the world had to offer. It was a moment by moment struggle to keep my foothold in the Lord and to not let it slip into the world. There were times where I did lose my foothold and the spiral began. I caught myself in the middle of gossip, and putting my two cents in from time to time. I found myself saying things and doing things that I knew, without a doubt, were not pleasing to my Lord. I would come home from work sometimes and just cry. That person that showed up that day at work was not the woman I wanted to be. At times, there seemed to be no hope for me. The more I was in the world, the more I found myself becoming like the world and less like Christ.
Is there any hope? Is there any way, we, as Christians can have that balance? Is there any way we can be in the world but not be of the world? Yes, there is. For me, personally, I had to separate from those that led me down paths God didn’t want me going down. Instead of sitting in the lunchroom taking part in the gossip, I would go into my office and sit and listen to worship music, or read my Bible. Sometimes, when the gossip found its way to my office, I would go and sit in my car.
I believe that if we truly want to live a godly life, at work, at home, at church, or wherever, then we must be willing to separate from those things that try to draw us away. I am a woman, so I can say this freely- nine times out of ten when you get a bunch of women in a room together, someone is going to start to gossip. We can’t seem to stop ourselves; we can’t seem to stop our mouths. But, that does not mean that we have to take part in it. Unfortunately, and it breaks my heart to say it, but even in a prayer meeting I have had to separate myself from gossip. The prayers for people turn into gossip fests, and I feel the Holy Spirit telling me to separate, so I get up and walk away.
The Holy Spirit will tell us when it is time to separate, but we must be willing to separate. There is nothing wrong with walking away from the conversation, or excusing yourself from the mainstream of chatter. If someone asks you why you left, tell them the truth. Tell them about your God, and how He does not like it when you partake in gossip. You may offend them, you may not be well liked anymore, but wouldn’t you rather stand for Christ then stand with the world?
There were times during my years in the corporate world where I was faced with a decision. Do I compromise and cheat at this, or do I stand for God and pay the consequences of my boss’ wrath? Do I do what my company is asking, even though I know it is illegal and immoral, or do I stand up and say, “No, I follow Christ and that is not right in God’s eyes”? There were times when I did stand and there were other times that I chose the easier way and did what they were asking. Those times that I stood, the Lord took care of me, He protected me and kept me from the wrath that came down the ladder to my humble office. He always protected me from the chopping block and always blessed me through it. Those other times that I didn't, always convicted me and many times I had to confess openly the transgressions of our actions to clients, which, by the way is not a fun and happy place to be.
I guess the question that we have to ask ourselves, when we feel the world and its morals creeping into our daily lives is, “What do I need to separate from?” We are in the world daily, but we are called to be separated from the world. We all have areas of our lives that cause us to be worldlier then we know we should be. The world wants us to conform, but Jesus calls us to be transformed. (Romans 12:1-2) The only way we can do that is to be separated from the world that is around us. The only way that we can truly be in the world but not of the world is to be willing to separate from it and stand upon the truth of Jesus Christ. You will face opposition and persecution as you do this, but the Lord will be with you. He will bless you and strengthen you and care for you through every moment. I can attest to that truth. I saw His hands working in me and through me when I separated and stood for Him. Many after me, who said they were Christians, also separated themselves from the lunchroom gossip after they saw me do it. At one point, we even had a small bible study in my office during lunch!
God has called us to be separate, to be His and His alone- whether we are out working in this world or whether we are at home caring for our families. We do not have to be like them to get ahead; we do not have to compromise to fit it. We have a God who wants to bless our socks off if we will just obey Him! We have to be willing to separate when He asks us to. I pray today that we, as His chosen people, would separate ourselves from the things of this world that we know He does not want us taking part in. I pray today that we would stand when He calls us to stand, and that we would “come out from among them and be separate.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) In Jesus Name, to Him be glory forever and ever, Amen and Amen.