“Heard you had a nice dinner with Jake!”
My colleague and I were exchanging the usual morning pleasantries and banter. He knew the previous evening, I had dinner with his attorney and personal friend because I was seeking some legal advice. I presumed that he and Jake had spoken after our dinner.
“Yes, I did!” It was a lovely evening and I was so impressed with his professional and personal demeanor that I intended to hire him as my attorney. “We had dinner at that bistro in the mall.”
“Ah yes…I know the place, very nice.”
‘Yeah, “ I continued. “We have known of each other for many years by our mutual connections, but it was nice to finally meet face to face. We have so much in common, like the same wines and foods, traveled to many of the same cities. We even shared a dessert!”
My colleague’s eyebrows elevated, clearly intrigued by my comment. “What do you mean?”
I chuckled. “When the server asked us what we would like for dessert, I ordered the tiramisu. When he heard my order, Jake handed the menu back to the server and said, ‘That sounds good! Bring two spoons.’ So we both shared the dessert!”
A sly grin appeared on my colleague’s face. “He was testing you!”
“What do you mean?”
“He was testing you.” He repeated. “He wanted to make sure you could be trusted. He did the same thing with me.”
I was thoroughly confused. “Why would he test me?”
“He wanted to know if you are a homophobe!”
I paused and searched my colleague’s face to see if he was pulling a fast one but he continued to smile, nodding his head approvingly. I knew from several statements that Jake made to me that he was gay and happily married to his partner for many years. His sexual orientation did not matter to me, I was only seeking a competent and trustworthy attorney. I snickered at his comment. “Well, I guess I passed the test!”
It was a seemingly innocent situation but bursting with staggering implications. In retrospect, I could have been offended, but I was not, because the irony is I do the same thing with many colleagues with whom I am about to do business. I sometimes ask leading questions, attempting to discern their positions on sensitive topics. I may discuss controversial topics, eager to learn of their viewpoints on certain issues.
By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” And he put them all together in custody for three days.
Genesis 42:15-17 (ESV)
Joseph was betrayed by his eleven other brothers who sold him to slave traders. Years later, the brothers met Joseph who, unknownst to them, was now second in command to the Pharaoh of Egypt. Joseph loved his brothers, in spite of what they did to him, but he wanted to test their character to determine whether they had truly changed or were they the same jealous and petty siblings who were willing to abandon him. In the end, his testings revealed that they were genuinely remorseful over what they did to him and he revealed his true identity to them and forgave them. In one of the most beautiful statements of acknowledging God’s providence in his life, Joseph told them, As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
In life and business, God expects us to be wise in our dealings and negotiations. This may require us to test the credibility and sincerity of others but never with the intention to cheat or swindle the other party, only to trust and verify their actions. If we seek God’s will first in every situation, He will deliver us from evil and open our eyes to see the Truth.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.