My early years as a young boy living on the farm in Tennessee that my grandfather managed right after the Great Depression, I observed the work ethic of all my family. They truly believed that if you were not willing to work and carry your load, you didn’t deserve the basic benefit of food. So, they all worked on the farm. Everyone had their individual job(s). It started before daybreak and usually ended right after sunset, maybe even longer. Interesting, no one died from overwork. There was no welfare for Americans. We never missed a meal, and there always was plenty to go around. We were as poor as church mice, but you would’ve never known it.
Right after the Depression came WWII. Then everyone had to pull their load, in the armed services, in plants, government, commerce. Women were called to carry a man’s load, and did they ever respond. Planes and ships galore were produced at record pace. Food was rationed but maybe only a few starved. Then came the end of the two hemisphere wars with Germany and Japan. America and its allies were victorious, not without severe casualties. All my family came home; praise God. Stack on this WWI and its toll. The early 20th century Americans faced three overwhelming disasters back to back to back, and emerged as one of the most powerful nations on earth. Any doubt that God used America?
But something happened post WWII. Our government decided that people needed assistance. And correctly, for sure. But like many things, they get abused. It started out with the truly needy. Then, slowly and surely, people saw they could convince politicians that they too were a victim and needed to be included. Thus, today we have people who are capable of working and contributing to the welfare of the economy that are receiving regular benefit checks for simply being single and having babies.
In the Old Testament, God established ways and means for widows and orphans to be cared for. “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do” (Deut. 14.28-29).
And in the New Testament we see this. “Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (I Tim. 5.3-4). The word ‘really’ stood out to me.
Responsibility and privilege
We see that God ‘worked’ for six days and rested at creation. He then places the first family in this divine garden and instructs them to manage it and prosper. They were to work right from the beginning. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Gen. 2.15). The first commandments by God were these. “Then God blessed them, and said to them, “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over… his creation” (Gen. 1.28-his creation is my summation). God had provided everything mankind would need to thrive and prosper. And man’s work was his responsibility and privilege. God worked, so man worked because man was made in God’s image.
Dads, teach your children the value of productive work early on. You may provide for their needs, but they should be a part of providing for their wants. That way, they will be productive adults, and not a part of the welfare rolls. Legal and moral work is basic to God’s design for mankind. And remember what scripture says; “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 10b).