Several years ago, we were living in an area where the parsonage backed up to some government-assistance housing. We had a four-foot chain link fence that separated our yard from the development. During the Spring, my wife and I were busy putting in a rather large garden. One day, as my wife was tilling up more dirt, a woman from the development walked over to the fence and said, “I’ve been watching you for a few days. What are you doing?”
My wife’s response was, “I’m putting in a garden.”
“Groceries are getting more and more expensive. This will help.”
To this statement the woman said, “Well, girl, just go down and get you some food stamps. The government will give you your food.”
This attitude reminded me of this passage in Proverbs:
Go to the ant, you lazy person; observe its ways and grow wise. The ant has no commander, officer, or ruler. Even so, it gets its food in summer; gathers its provisions at harvest. How long, lazy person, will you lie down? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to lie down—and poverty will come on you like a prowler, destitution like a warrior.
When we depend upon government assistance to meet our needs, we run the risk of a) teaching the next generation not to work for what they get since they see us do the same and b) become utterly destitute because government programs can become de-funded easily. The same is true when we depend upon the charity of others to meet our needs. Charity only lasts as long as other people can have their own needs met. When it becomes difficult for them to provide the essentials for their own families, charity dries up. Working for what we own is blessed by God and it gives a bit more security than depending upon the government or others for our basic necessities.
I do realize that there are some people who work, and work hard, but still receive public assistance. Those situations are why those government programs exist–to help ensure people who are trying hard do not slip through the cracks of society because wages have not kept up with the cost of living. This is a sad commentary on the state of our economic society today. Nevertheless, the reality is that funding for even these programs can be reduced or cut.
Just as Proverbs recorded nearly 3000 years ago, it is much wiser to work hard than to depend upon others for the necessities of life.