A Mind to Work
Recently I spoke with a kind, contrite gentleman who confessed that, up to this point in time, he had lived a slothful life. He admitted that he had never had a real job in 33 years (three years of which were spent in prison). In fact, he had never even filled out a single job application. He begged, borrowed, stole, and sold drugs to get by day after day, year after year. Thankfully, all of that changed only a few weeks ago as he began his first work at a fast-food restaurant.
Many hard-working Americans currently find themselves unemployed and searching for jobs. A number of sincere Christians may be seeking employment as they petition God for opportunities to work and provide for their families and others. These individuals are serious about their search for work, understanding God’s desire for them to be as self-sufficient as possible (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). But, it is also true that many Americans (even some who call themselves Christians) seem to care less about work. They have a flippant attitude toward having a job.
Many willfully choose to live lazy lives. They seem to work harder at getting out of work, or at finding ways for others to take care of them, than actually performing a worthwhile job. I once heard a group of pregnant teenage girls say that they deserved to be taken care of (by the government) financially. Why? Because they had children out of wedlock. I know one small business owner who has several employees on “disability,” and yet most of them are more than capable of performing physically demanding construction jobs, much less jobs that require relatively little physical prowess. I spoke with a physical therapist recently who confessed having major frustration with so many patients who are in the process of filing for disability, yet are clearly capable of performing all sorts of jobs. Certainly, many Americans are genuinely disabled and unable to perform basic tasks that are necessary in order to make a normal living, but no doubt thousands, and perhaps even millions, of the 8.7 million disabled Americans are more than capable of working for a living (Jeffrey, 2012). [NOTE: 15% more Americans (1,264,808) are on federal disability than there were just three years ago (Jeffrey).]
The Good Book says to help those in need (Proverbs 28:27; Ephesians 4:28; Luke 3:11). Jesus expects His faithful followers to help the destitute (Matthew 25:34-46). Notice, however, that Jesus’ powerful discourse regarding helping the needy was taught following a story about a “lazy servant” who was cast into outer darkness for his unprofitable slothfulness (Matthew 25:26,30). The same apostle who reminded the Ephesian elders of Jesus’ statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” wrote to the church of the Thessalonians, saying, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, nor working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). The inspired wise man candidly rebuked the lazy man, saying,
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man (Proverbs 6:6-11).
Indeed, “He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame” (Proverbs 10:5). “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Proverbs 21:25).
Depending on the situation, the next time that a healthy, able-bodied person asks you for money, it might be appropriate for you to kindly ask him if he would like to mow your lawn, wash your car, weed your garden, etc. Are you really helping a lazy man if you give him anything more than what the Bible says he needs—the Gospel and an opportunity to work?
“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, emp. added).
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23).
Jeffrey, Terence (2012), “8,733,461: Workers on Federal ‘Disability’ Exceed Population of New York City,” July 2, http://cnsnews.com/news/article/8733461-workers-federal-disability-exceed-population-new-york-city.