Earlier this year, we offered to help a young man who was one day away from being homeless. He was a smooth talker and persuaded us that he was intent on making money and being employed. This person has the talent to succeed, but seems unwilling to start at the bottom and work his way up. Instead, he continued with talk and promised multiple times that he would produce some income. After hours of talking, tears of sorrow, the man’s life never changed and nothing was produced. He used his time to figure out how not to work instead of discovering the value of work. “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”(Proverbs 14:23) He chose to be idle instead of producing something of value because he did not want to work in a lower position that would lead him to one with more responsibility. The people who work hard, persevere, and use their creativity are the successful ones that surround me. This experience has taught me a lesson about the dangers of entitlement. While this person lived with us, he was content to use our belongings as his, eat our food, and drink our bottled water. He was quite at ease. People who are able should not be a burden to others. In a letter to the Thessalonians, Paul the apostle wrote that “we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.” The Baltimore tragedy weighs heavy on my heart. It is hard for me to imagine a place that has 30 percent unemployment where people stand around in the streets because they have nothing to do. Throwing money at the situation did not solve the problems of Sandtown in Baltimore since they received 130 million in aid from the state and federal government a few decades ago. Entitlements make people dependent and then they lose their ability to be creative and solve problems. We all have a responsibility to help the poor, but not to enable them. It would be nice if these people could start a garden planting trees, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This would give them something soul satisfying to do and help them to learn useful skills. They could learn to cook using the produce off the land. From the garden they might go to the classroom to volunteer; showing their produce and how they prepare it for use. These people might go to a church and ask if there is any one in need that they might help. Pulling an elderly person’s weeds is a start. Perhaps there is a business where a person can be an apprentice and learn a skill. Contentment and happiness begins with productivity that comes from ownership from work that has been generated by one’s own labors.
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