Random Thoughts on Freedom, Government, The Wealthy, The Needy, and Heaven

March 24, 2010 — 3 Comments

I came across this quote today.  It’s from a well-known Baptist minister, Dr. Adrian Rogers:

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

This quote–and the events of the past week–generated some random thoughts that I feel compelled to share with you now.

–So far this year–among many other acts of service–our church has clothed hundreds of kids in Afghanistan and is feeding 50 families a week at a local school–not because we are being forced to, but because we want to. Having $10,000 taken from us–by force or law–and then given to these groups would have been an altogether different experience.

–Wealthy people are not the enemy.  I praise God for the wealthy people who have given generously to God’s work all around the world.  Having wealth is not bad; loving wealth is bad. Wealthy people build hospitals, colleges, and churches.  They publish newspapers, magazines, and books.  They fund research that heals diseases.  Wealthy people build businesses that employ people.  Ever been hired by a poor person?

–The Bible teaches that people who work hard deserve to be paid well.

1 Timothy 5:18

For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

–Why should I be entitled to another person’s wealth when I had nothing to do with the accumulation of that wealth?  That feels like stealing to me and that’s a violation of the 8th Commandment (yes, I just sang the song in my head! :)).

–Jesus cared about sick people.

Matthew 8:16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.

Matthew 14:14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

–The Bible teaches that God expects people to work if they are able to work.

–2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

–God cares about needy people and wants us to care about them too.

Deuteronomy 15:11
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

–Freedom is good; slavery is bad.  The “yoke of slavery” that Paul refers to is the law–and the legalism associated with those who love the law more than they love people.  Because I’ve tasted grace, I’m repulsed by anything flavored with legalism.  In my experience, laws are not instruments of true compassion, but instruments of true control.

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

–My citizenship is in Heaven.  This world is not my home.  My hope does not come from Washington, but from Heaven.  And my Savior is not up for re-election…ever.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

What thoughts does Dr. Rogers’ quote–and the events of the past week–stir in your mind?  I’d love to know.

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3 responses to Random Thoughts on Freedom, Government, The Wealthy, The Needy, and Heaven

  1. 

    Amen! One of the best posts I’ve seen on the subject this week.

  2. 

    I think there is some false logic in the idea that people who work hard deserve to be paid well. In that it implies that the wealthy work hard and therefore have earned their money, while the poor are lazy and therefore that is why they are paid poorly. When in fact many of the underclass are working harder (in the sense that there work is literally harder physically, and often longer) than their wealthier counterparts who to some degree make money off the hard work of the poor.

    Perhaps another apt verse would be the Rich man and Lazarus. As the rich man hordes away, enjoying an easy life, while Lazarus sat outside and begged. I guess he didn’t work for his wages so he didn’t deserve anything, but it seemed that Jesus preferred him. I think again of when Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and come and follow him. It wasn’t that the poor deserved it, or that the rich young man hadn’t worked for it, but in Jesus’ kingdom it seems that Jesus has different ideas of economic justice.

    I’m not saying that I want to let the government “solve” all of our problems.
    I’m not even disagreeing with you sentiments.

    Here are my thoughts:

    Churches clamoring against economic justice wouldn’t have to rely on the government if they did the job themselves, but many (many not all) of those arguing against such plans do little with their “freedom” for the underprivileged.

    I feel at times that American Christianity has bought a line about comfort, consumerism, and prosperity that somehow has them blindly getting in bed with the Republican party on everything. I think the Church needs more independent thinkers who don’t simply spout the latest “truth” they hear from Fox News.

    There is a system in this country that does seem to make it very difficult for certain classes to every climb out of their underprivileged system. Its not all merit based and the gap between rich and poor is growing. Why are we constantly working to protect the super-wealthy while fighting against measures to protect the exploited?

    I just wonder sometimes what Jesus would do, and I don’t think he would side with the lazy or the super-wealthy (which include most of us Americans when we think globally). And I don’t think he would be impressed with our gifts given out of our unprecedented excess that seldom cost us much of anything.

    A Final Note:

    This is not intended to be accusatory.
    This is not angry; it’s just some thoughts from my perspective. In many ways I don’t think it disagrees with your thoughts at all.
    These words are as much an indictment of my lifestyle and my local Church community as anyone else.
    My tone probably doesn’t come across well here, but I intend to offer my thoughts in humility, not sarcasm or cynicism.

  3. 

    Nice perspective guys! I wish I knew more about what our Government is up to. I tend to still look much further out. What looks to be bad will turn out for good, eventually. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy or ignorant. It’s merely the nature of history and a God who is in control. Since the beginning, mankind has made an attempt to be in control. It has existed in ancient Greek mythology and exists in many forms today. Can I have someone else answer, why God has allowed this to happen?
    As you know, there’s something much much greater that awaits us after this life. Whatever happens here, stays here. Right?
    Jesus does tell us to store our treasure in Heaven. I think this is why the idea of giving and providing for each other mentioned after that statement tell us (as seen in Acts) we should be sharing all things with the each other in our great fellowship as the Church (remember also the church is His bride). When we learn as a church to share and go beyond our world’s patterns, the poor in this world wouldn’t be running to a group of politicians to meet their needs (ie. voting for them). This was a heavy blow to the modern church and a might I say defilement. We must start listening to those around us. Am I off base here? Yes, I am wealthy compared to parts of the world (as Shawn Grant mentioned above). I am NOT wealthy in the sense that I can pay what I owe and also give/GO to the poor. Yes, I’ve fallen into a trap set by creative scheming/marketing/world patterns, etc. Has wealth become “what I can afford to buy/borrow”? Are the wealthy really wealthy or are they spinning the wheels of a larger trap? I can’t exactly define who God sees as financially acceptable. Although, I do rub shoulders with a few who appear like they could be helping me get out of the trap. Rather than see me succeed with what they seem/ justify as less work, I assume they would rather me keep the banks and credit card companies sitting fat! Can someone tell me if there’s a bank out there that doesn’t sell the idea of a credit card? Imagine for a second if “Christians” stopped working for banks. What was the last statistic for who claims to be a Christian in America? (Dave Ramsey has helped me greatly in getting on a track to financial freedom)
    Please pray that we can all break from the pattern, and start getting back to biblical methods of meeting needs (Acts 4:32). Another question for someone else to answer: Does the bible ever ask us to assume someones intentions (or assume they’re asking for a handout)? For the record: I do NOT think having the government step in to do this for us is the solution or a biblical principle. I do believe the church can do much more, starting with the household, but only to encourage reaching the world!

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