Obviously I can’t know your situation. It may be that you’re out of work right now and wondering what to do. Each of us is dealt a set of circumstances that we must adapt to. For some of us our health has deteriorated in such a way that we could never have prevented it. It might be that you’ve been laid off. Perhaps you find yourself up against the wall financially. If you’re in a situation where figuring out how to put bread on the table is tough, I’d encourage you first and foremost, don’t just do nothing. It’s easy to fall into this pattern of not doing anything; of waiting for something to happen. This leads men into the worst of depressions, encouraging the entitlement mentality as they sit around feeling sorry for themselves and blaming everyone else for their problems.
If this is you then I have good news and bad news, “It’s all up to you.” Nobody owes it to you pull you up and set you on your merry way. The government continues to make empty promises to do so. But all they’re doing is making it worse and harder for a man to make an honest wage. And sitting around waiting for something to happen feeds into the machine of wealth depletion, victimization and entitlement; all of which are central to the current socialistic practices of our culture.
Before reading further, I’d encourage you to read Simon’s observations. Hopefully you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Which of these men are you? Are you employed, seeking to promote your employer with your service of honest labor (dishonest labor shouldn’t be an option)? Are you doing what you can with what you have, even if it’s only a fishing pole, hoe, shovel, rake or your hands? Or, are you a sponge, sucking the life out of those around you?
Now, it’s true that many have achieved great wealth through no merit of their own. In fact, some have achieved it in spite of themselves. Frankly, there’s nothing we can do about it, so get over it. It’s also true that many men have worked very hard and done things extremely well and still can’t seem to get ahead. But most men who have wealth have either earned it or stolen it. And it’s very rare that an honest hardworking man has nothing to show for it. Furthermore, even if he is still poor, he has his dignity.
I won’t entertain stealing here, because I don’t consider it to be an option. God has commanded us not to steal (Ex 20:15). Stealing degrades society. I could go on and on in regard to the destruction to self and culture that stealing causes (2 Thess 3:10). But the fact that God said so is simply enough (Eph 4:28). Frankly, the man who is able to work but instead begs (demands) is a thief. And the man who is able to work and yet refuses to work, expecting society to provide for him, is no better (1 Tim 5:8)
That leaves us with one option, work. Many think that work is a curse, resulting from Adam’s transgression in the garden. While the fall did occur because of Adam’s transgression, it did not result in work being a curse. It resulted in toil being a curse. Work is an incredible blessing handed down to us as image bearers of God. Adam was given the privilege of tending the garden before sin ever entered the world (Gen 2:15). We have the privilege of emulating the creative nature of God in our daily activities. However, the toil that comes with working is a curse. One is the opportunity and pleasure of doing what God created to do. The other is a result of our sin natures, which we must overcome.
Simon pointed out how the beggar, in this situation, is a leach, sucking the life from those who are productive. It is one thing if a man is so beset by circumstances that he needs help from friends, neighbors, family and his church to get back on his feet. This happens, and is a wonderful opportunity for us to love and minister to one another. It’s an entirely different thing when a man is able and unwilling. And this man demanding money when others are offering a valuable good or service right next to him perhaps illustrates our point perfectly. There is always SOMETHING we can do. Take your lawnmower out and ask if people need their lawns mowed. Carry a shovel around and ask if you can shovel snow. It used to be that men would knock on doors and ask for work. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we’re offering something for something rather than nothing for something.
Perhaps you’re saying, “Joe, you just don’t know or understand my situation.” You’re right, I don’t. But let me ask you this. Are you worse off than John Farese? Perhaps your condition is more challenging than Joni Eareckson Tada’s? Or, maybe you have no arms or legs?
Friends, the world has fed you lie after lie, fomenting the idea that you’re somehow owed something. This has led many of us to believe that we should leech from those around us in the form of welfare, endless unemployment and other so-called entitlements of society. Simon calls those of us who won’t work but are willing to take from society parasites (a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others). He’s right.
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8
You’ve likely heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” Of course, we could teach farming or hunting or any number of goods and services that can help a man provide for himself and his household.
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. – Ephesians 4:28