On Entitlement and Fish
He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
2 Thessalonians 3:10
There's a spirit lately that's taken our country and even some of our churches by storm, and that's the spirit of entitlement. This isn't a post on being republican (which I'm not), or bashing the welfare system, or anything of the sort. This is about a deeper issue here, a heart issue.
I sat in my living room the other day talking with a family member who was truly angry at God. God had "let" all these terrible things happen to them and they were angry. Why did God allow some people wealth, health, and happiness, while he afforded others poverty, and hardship? It was a very good question. We can all agree that some of the meanest, nastiest, and laziest people can end up on top and from the outside it seems unfair, and so we make a judgement against God, and that's the first mistake. Judgement.
Judgement is the first step toward a spirit of entitlement and the root of judgement is pride. We judge God's actions, putting a lamp in the face of the Almighty to interrogate him and ask "Why!" Job's friends unfortunately made that same mistake and God came in like a storm and merely started to spout off all that He has made and all that He tends to. I think the idea God was trying to portray to Job is that nobody could possibly understand enough of the universe to make a judgement, especially against the One and Only God. It's really an act of humility on our part, to give up the right to judge and control, because we never really had that right in the first place. We've got to believe that God is a good God and that though we do not understand His ways, they are "Higher than ours."
Once we judge, anger, bitterness, and resentment set it. Along with those come what I call "the blame game." We blame everyone but ourselves for where we are, including God. That job loss wasn't my fault, it was that mean boss. The scholarship applications to college were just too much, and I wouldn't have gotten them anyway; can you see where I'm going? The problem with entitlement is that it becomes like a prison cell. Constant compairing and complaining trap us in our station, unable to help ouselves, unwilling to get better. No room is left in our hearts for healing or growth because we're so focused on what we do not have.
Government and Charities do not make this entitlement issue much better. It is true that God calls us to help the poor, the orphan, and the widow, but we pervert the meaning of love and help, and instead of teaching people to support themselves, we enable them to stay just where they are. This my friends, is not love, it's just the opposite. Instead of giving a man a fish, it is much more beneficial and much more loving to teach him how to. By giving them everything we solidify the spirit of entitlement that can go on for generations. It's why we have "welfare generations"; where people continue to live on welfare as do their children, and their children after that ad naseum. How can this be love?
I continue to grow scared as I see our churches and even our government buy into the lie that everyone is entitled to the same thing and that the solution is to throw money at them. So much money is wasted in giving people things without teaching them to help themselves and their family. But what happens when that help is taken away? They can't survive on their own anymore because no one has taught them how to. And worse, when we merely focus on the problem, we gloss over the root issue; the heart issue.
The bible teaches us to not only help the poor but to come alongside them and give them hope and hope comes at the cost of investing in the time and energy to teach them to help themselves. We can set them up for success by investing in their spiritual, mental, and emotional health, and in furthering skills and education so that they can go on and make better lives for their children and generations to come. But our churches and our country are only going to prosper when we realize that entitlement is just another word for pride, and that enabling is the opposite of love.