A friend of mine was about to take her small grandchildren for a walk. As she opened her cabin door to a deck that overlooks the beauty of the Colorado wilderness, she was shocked to see a happy, small brown bear delighting itself with the sugar water from her hummingbird feeder. She quickly retreated into the cabin, closed the door, grabbed her camera, and postponed her walk.
The bear had come looking for a free handout. This bear had learned very young that it is much easier to raid someone’s garbage can than it is to forage through the woods laboring for its next meal. If my friend would habitually feed the bear, the bear would soon be conditioned to daily climb the deck, consume its meal, retreat to its den for a post-meal nap, and come back later for its next handout.
In Pavlov’s conditioning experiment, he linked two stimuli with a reward. He conditioned his dogs to behave in the manner he wished by first ringing a bell and then following its sound with a tasty morsel. Soon, just the ringing of the bell would cause the dogs to salivate as they expected food to follow.
The behavior of millions of Americans has been conditioned and controlled by a manipulative government. America was founded on the idea that anyone with a willingness to work hard could come to our country and build a successful life. In more recent times, America has been the place immigrants are literally dying to come to because of all the free stuff they can get. The land of hard work has devolved into the land of handouts.
Our politicians ring the bell, indicating there is more free stuff coming. The mouths of the populace begin to water, and they experience a sense of satisfaction, not because they feel good about working hard for an honest day’s wages, but because they were successful in getting free stuff.
My father always told me that the idea that one can get something for free was an illusion. Nothing is for free. Free stuff is the carrot on the end of the politician’s stick. After the appetites of the masses have been sufficiently whetted, the crafty politicians demand payment. That payment comes in the form of votes that will keep them in office for at least another term.
Here is an amazing irony. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has distributed the greatest number of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the U.S. Park Service, which belongs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, admonishes park visitors to refrain from feeding the bears because it will lead to dependence, and they will not learn to fend for themselves! We understand the destructiveness of dependency in the lives of bears, but we choose to ignore its destructiveness in the lives of humans!
One might ask the question, “Where does the government get all of the free stuff it gives away?” The answer is simple: the government plays Robin Hood; it takes from those ‘who have’ and giver to those ‘who have not’. This sounds like a good thing on the surface, but things are not always as they seem to appear. We would like to believe that most of these government policies were formed with good intentions in an attempt to help the poor and disadvantaged. Unfortunately, many shysters have learned how to manipulate these policies and fatten themselves on ‘entitlements’ they don’t really deserve.
The scale of justice has been weighing only what people lack, not how hard they have worked. Injustice clothes itself in deception as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac declare that everyone deserves a house, even if they are able-bodied couch potatoes who refuse to offer their services and contribute to society. Hard-working Americans are enraged by the all-too-common practice of taking more and more of their hard- earned money and giving it to those who are undeserving. Isaiah the prophet warned about the practice of twisting justice for personal benefit: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isa. 5:20)
It is very important to keep the dogs salivating, the bears returning to the deck for their next handout. President Obama often uses scripture in his attempts to justify the policies of his failed administration. At a prayer breakfast earlier this year, he claimed to have Jesus’ backing for his Healthcare Reform bill because Jesus said “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 19:19) His healthcare reform also includes using our hard-earned tax money to fund abortions. Can anybody say, “Thou shalt not kill?” (Lev. 19:11)
Jesus had a plan for caring for the poor. In the Old Testament, the farmers were instructed to leave some of the fruit for those who were poor: “Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:10) Notice that this wasn’t a handout; the poor still had to get up off their duff and go pick grapes.
Jesus’ never, ever advocated taking from those who worked hard and giving the fruit of their labor to those who are undeserving. “You shall not be partial to the poor nor honor the person of the mighty.” (Lev. 19:15) There are certain expectations that should be applied to both poor and wealthy. Jesus’ plan for taking care of the poor was not a compulsory taxation; it was an impulse planted in the heart of those who were converted to his way. Christ followers feel a voluntary compassion for the disadvantaged.
Caring for the poor is a volitional act of love. When asked why she was so motivated to care for the dying, the poor, and the destitute, Mother Teresa said, “They are all Jesus in disguise.” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)
Perhaps the church is not blameless for the condition we find ourselves in. Has the church abdicated its responsibilities to the government? Care for the poor has become something that is government-mandated rather than an act of compassion on behalf of those who live for the glory of God alone. Our sin of unbelief is often revealed when we transfer belief in God to belief in an idol, an empty, impotent alternative to God himself. Have we put our trust in government and relegated God to a back seat?
Photo credit: terrellaftermath
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