Posts tagged ‘commands’

February 1, 2012

To Work or Not To Work?

by pastortimfowler

To work or not to work? Poverty is a problem world-wide. It always has been and always will be. In Matthew’s gospel, the 26th chapter and 11th verse, Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us and I believe what He says. That does not mean that we should not care about them, the question is how should we care for them? Our country has an ongoing argument about how the poor should be dealt with and I have talked about this before in a few blogs.
The best thing a poor person can do is to get a job. I am not saying that we should not provide for those who can’t work, and I am not saying that it is a simple thing to get a job. I am saying that if you can get a job it is better than living off handouts. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, he should not eat. Sadly we have developed a culture of people who believe that they deserve to have the government and anyone else who will, take care of them. I get many calls a week from people who are “professional” beggars that have developed a phone script to ask for handouts from churches. They know the agencies that I try to refer them to before I can even get the list out of my drawer. I ask them if they are willing to come do some work around the church and they almost always say no. FYI, I have never turned someone away who is in true need of food or shelter.
Many people who are poor are going through a difficult period in their life that is due to circumstances beyond their control. Sadly they often become comfortable with having the unemployment checks sent to them and begin to enjoy not having to work for their money. Soon they stop looking for work and become a burden on society. Often the excuse in the beginning is that they can’t find a job making enough money. Many times people are not willing to do a job for less than what the last one paid but are more than willing to take less for doing nothing. I have a problem with that.
Working more than one job can overcome the difference in salaries. I know of multiple places that are hiring right now if you are willing to work for minimum wage. Having two and even three jobs is not a bad thing if it pays the bills. Many of our parents and grandparents worked multiple jobs as a way of life. It is not something to be ashamed of. And before you jump to the conclusion that I don’t know what it is like to work two jobs, I do. I have done it as recently as last year. Why? Because I needed to pay my bills and I was not willing to sit around and sponge off others when I could do something to help myself.
Being on government welfare is too often the hindrance of people who would work, but don’t because of convenience. Unemployment insurance should not be extended automatically to everyone who is accepting it. The money does not come from the government, it comes from the tax payers. Sure, most pay unemployment insurance while they are working, but it is not for indefinite benefits. After the allotted time for those benefits, it becomes other people’s money that pays for it. If the checks stop, people are more likely to look harder and take whatever jobs needed to feed themselves and their families.
The bottom line is not about being compassionate or not. It is about enabling those who are fully capable of working but won’t. People who can’t work and are in need must be helped. It is the right thing to do. One of the commands of the Bible is to help those who are in need. But personal responsibility is also a command of the Bible. Laziness is a sin. Not supplying the needs of your family when you are able, is a sin. The church nor the government, should ever help someone sin. But we better be ready to help those who can’t help themselves. If we don’t, then we sin.
But when someone can work, they should. We do no favors by letting people have handouts when they could find a job. While they are in that difficult spot of in-between jobs, we need to help. We need to assist in food, housing, and the overall well-being of anyone in that position. But we must remember that old proverb that says, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. To work or not to work? WORK!

November 22, 2011

You’re So Vain

by pastortimfowler

This morning I was reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes and as always, spent more time pondering than reading. That’s right, I ponder. This was written by Solomon, the fellow who God gave him anything that he asked for, and Solomon chose wisdom. He was the wisest man to ever live and in his writing this, the wisdom has driven him to understand things that are often not what humans want to know.
I believe that humans will naturally try to find a way to put the “me first” factor into everything. Even the most mature Christians that I know, myself included, (see, I just injected me into the thought), want to think that somehow life is all about them. Our best attempts at humility are much too often filled with thoughts of how to look humble and get recognized for our humility. So Solomon starts out saying that it is all vanity of vanities. I love the translation God’s Word and the way it reads: Ecclesiastes 1:2 Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” But that is what vanity is, pointless. If life is all about me/you, then this life is pretty pointless. This all reminds me of the old song by Carley Simon, You’re So Vain.
When reading this amazing book of the Bible it is easy to misunderstand what he is saying. He says over and over that this life is pointless. It is almost like he is saying that we shouldn’t even have a desire to live. At one point he says that one generation dies and another one lives, but the earth lasts forever. It as if he is saying that we are worthless on this earth, but that is not the point of this writing. But Solomon understoond something that few ever will. Imagine being able to understand everything. The longer you live, the more you understand.
Many times I have people in the church come to me and suggest that we do a certain ministry or project. Part of being the pastor is to try to understand the impact of what our church does and what the impact of what each ministry or project has on the overall mission of our church. Way too often I have to think about the underlying motives of these suggestions. Most of them are not made with any ill intent, but they are made with a selfish motive that generally is not even recognized by those doing the suggesting.
For instance, if someone comes to me with an idea for the children’s ministry of our church and they have children, that idea is usually something that they think will be best for their children. That is not wrong, but it is self motivated and that is vanity. If someone comes to me with an idea to feed to homeless, and I don’t mention that it was their idea, often they get their feelings hurt, even if we implement the idea exactly like they suggested. Vanity.
Solomon said this: Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at it! It’s all pointless (vanity). It’s like trying to catch the wind. The older he got the more he saw that everything that humans did had a touch of vanity in it. Remember that this is not me talking, this is the man that God granted wisdom.  Wisdom that had never before and never will again be given to a man. And let me add this: If you are saying to yourself, I am not like that, you are being vain. What Soloman was realizing in this wisdom was that man was more about man than about God. That it was God that is the center of the universe, not man. Even the best of man is nothing compared to God. It is indeed vanity and the wisdom that he thought would bring him great joy, in the end only showed him how short he came when compared to the glory of God. This is how he ends Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone. God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad.