Now that world economies are slowing down, entitlements are being threatened. There is also a theory that riots in the UK and other countries have roots in the government providing inadequate care for those trained to depend on entitlements. The reality is that governments have historically done a terrible job of taking care of people. Governments have more often shot, starved, gassed, and neglected elements of the population more than they have cared and provided for the poor.
In the Christian community we might level the same unfair accusation at the church, that we haven’t done a good job of taking care of the poor. Other believers even think that God himself hasn’t done a very good job of taking care of “them!” Entitlement pervades the expectations of both the religious and secular mindsets. The concept is that someone else should provide for my education, health care, retirement, childcare, employment, and salvation.
Balance – We have heard in church and from the liberal community quoting “religion” that we should take care of the poor. I’ve heard those verses 100 times for every mention that “He that does not work, neither should he eat.” The former can be heard in the political mountain; the latter is absent.
For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 2 Thess 3:10-13 NASU
We do an incredible disservice to people who are enduring hard times when we lead them to believe that others will take care of them forever. Our concept should be that people who are able to work are only temporarily in poverty, and that there is a way out… personal initiative.
Roots of entitlement – Do we believe that God takes care of his children? I think it’s fair to say that He does. But, most of us have had some failures, and many are mad at God, their parents, the company, the government… whoever failed to meet their expectations. At some level, our theology has produced poverty in our society. God takes care of those who do their part (work). People who passively believe that God will supernaturally provide for their needs quite often live in lack. Can God provide supernaturally? Certainly! Does he do it often enough to depend on it as a life style? No, and for good reason. He’s looking for co-laborers to change the world, not couch potatoes waiting for the next miracle followed by the rapture.
Wisdom – As a pastor, I emphasized relating to God in terms of revelation much more than wisdom.
Revelation – prophetic, intercession, healing, divine appointments, dreams, breakthrough, miracles, miraculous provision, anointing, God’s presence, angelic visitation, revival.
Wisdom – initiative, character, education, experience, competence, understanding, mentors, work, heart’s desires, responsibility, planning, discipline, budgets, creativity, entrepreneurial, wealth.
My congregation came to church to experience the presence of God. I and they were far less interested in learning how to write a business plan, and we had no concept of learning to create wealth. We thought that if we gave it all away, God would be incentivized to miraculously give us more. I’m not implying the importance of one over the other – we need both wisdom and revelation. I just want to point to the fact that our equipping in church emphasizes only one, and when we get into the marketplace we walk with a limp because we typically undervalue wisdom. Failures in the marketplace are not for lack of intercession and miracles; they are typically the natural result of what we sow: incompetence – and the lack of everything else on the wisdom list.
Sow toward your destiny intentionally – Our present station in life is simply the sum of our past and present beliefs, attitudes and actions. It’s not really anyone else’s fault, and I am never a victim, even if everything goes wrong (and it does occasionally). The good news is that change is possible “if” I’m willing to sow different beliefs, attitudes and actions. When everything does go wrong, I just get to work and put it back all “right” again. I might even improve it so that it can’t go wrong again. I am content, but never complacent. The amazing and painful truth that sets captives free is that poverty and abundance are both self-inflicted.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Gal 6:7 NASU
They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; Prov 1:31-32 NIV
Where it’s all headed – God is assembling Kings right now who have the intention of changing the world for the better. They are saying “yes, Lord” to some pretty big mountains… the national debt, the poverty mindset, and the current economy. We are called to bless the nations and to make disciples of all nations. That translates to enlightening the political ideology and blessing governments as well. At the moment, there is an international absence of good leadership and good ideas. We have a gap waiting for us to fill it with innovation, wealth creation, and practical solutions. We’ll need all the revelation and wisdom we can get. But God has given us this assignment. It’s time to step up into intentional competence. When we are as good as we can be, that’s when God steps in and multiplies the fishes. It’s my best effort and God’s best effort at the same time.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13-14 NASU
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant- — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:5-6 NIV