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Rights Vs. Responsibility

Paul the Apostle wrote, "We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'"1

Recently, when watching an interview on TV, I found it sickening to see the following reasoning: An individual who was being interviewed—who happened to be an illegal immigrant—was asked why she was here, and why she didn't want to work. Her answer was that she had a right to be here, and a right to be taken care of, her "justification" being that because God had blessed the U.S.A., it was the will of Jesus that she live here and be taken care of. In her thinking it was owing to her. She was obviously a member of the "entitlement society" as she was an able-bodied woman and quite capable of working, and quite capable of applying for a permit to be in the country legally.

Certainly I believe that people who are genuinely unable to take care of themselves because of a serious disability, need to be cared for. But to take care of people who are capable of working and taking care of themselves, is a case of irresponsible codependency. Whether this is at an individual or a national level makes no difference, it is a gross form of irresponsibility both on the part of the care-giver and the care-receiver. The one is as sick as the other. To take care of people who can take care of themselves reinforces their irresponsibility and keeps them sickeningly over-dependent and immature.

By way of interest, God will bend the heavens to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves–that's why he sent Jesus, his Son, to die in our place on the cross to save us from the lethal consequences of our sins—but he will not do for us what we are able to do for ourselves.

Yes, people have right "rights" but not wrong "rights" in that they do not have the right to be irresponsible and live off other peoples' hard work and efforts when they are capable of taking care of themselves. As today's Scripture says, "'If a man will not work, he shall not eat." It is tragic that too many leaders don't get it, as it appears that they are more interested in getting votes than they are in the lasting welfare of both individuals and society at large.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to always see what my responsibilities are, accept them, and do what I need to do—always in all ways. And deliver me from the sin of using 'my so called rights' as an excuse to justify my avoidance of personal responsibility. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 (NIV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.