The other day Brittney and I stumbled upon a very interesting documentary by a photojournalist named Lauren Greenfield. She began her career taking pictures of third world countries and the poverty that is often a part of them, but she ended up making her living photographing the extreme excess of the rich and famous (warning, very mature content is included). In the documentary, she studied and described the psychological and sociological causes and and effects of debauchery upon her own life as well as the rest of the population, and her findings were interesting, to say the least. She noted how she felt the need to measure up, and ways society demonstrated the same. She also made a profound point that was, in fact, biblical. In so many words, she noted that, over time, the American dream had transformed from the opportunity to make an honest living into the overindulgence and the pursuit of excess. The revelatory truth stuck with me, and the Lord caused me to see how superfluous living has infected our nation and the world.
11And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. ***20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
This parable is often told to emphasize the love and forgiveness of our Father, in heaven. But equal attention should be given to the son’s experience. The circumstances which provoked the return of the prodigal son were important, and his ending perspective is paramount.
In his immaturity, the prodigal son wanted something for nothing, and when substance was given to him, he quickly wasted in on “riotous living.” But before his return to his father, the prodigal son was forced into a situation where he had to support himself to live. Basically, he learned the value of hard work.
Then, while working, he considered how the SERVANTS of his father’s house worked and always had enough bread. They worked for living but were ultimately supported by the wealth of their master. When the prodigal son finally returned, he didn’t desire another handout; he only asked for an opportunity to serve.
What else can we learn from this story?
Think of our earthly occupations, there are wages, and there are benefits. Wages are directly connected to the amount of work we put in while benefits are provided simply by our association with the company. As servants in the kingdom of God, we have the most amazing benefits, and they come because we are a part of the company of saints in the God’s kingdom. Let’s focus on two of them:
- Our best benefit is eternal life insurance (salvation). The premiums of this insurance were too high for us to pay on our own, so Christ paid them for us. Therefore, we should realize that we could never work to earn salvation, but it is provided as a benefit of working in the kingdom of God.
- Another benefit comes in the form of discounts on the purchases of life. In other words, grace allows us to pay much less for many things that others pay a lot more for. The price others have to pay to accomplish anything is not what we have to pay to accomplish the same. First consider, you pay for things with more than just your money. You also pay with other things such as your health and your time. Therefore, where the world would have to suffer in their relationships and health to pay for their success, we don’t have to. But notice, I didn’t say we don’t have to pay for anything. If you stop working, the benefits are no longer guaranteed.
Galatians 5:1, 13
1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. ….. 13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
In the old covenant, we were bound by the law to do exactly what we were told. It was a form of bondage intended to direct and disciple us in how to work effectively; It taught us that honest work is serving others and that is the only true place from which rewards come. In the new testament, we are given liberty, but it is not to do nothing. It is to work in obedience in the kingdom of God.
Dreaming Without Doing
As mentioned early, the American dream has changed from the freedom to work the right to receive. It used to be that America was viewed as a land of opportunity, and people desired to come to this country for a chance to work without the oppression of corruption in authoritative control. But now it has become the land of lust and partying in pursuit of no authority or limitations at all.
1 Peter 4:1-6
1Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now, thanks to entertainment and social media, the excessiveness of a few is the expectation of all who desire it. When you are consistently fed lies, you begin to believe they are truth. When you feed your spirit with incessant images of superfluity, you believe it is more prominent than it actually is. The result is that you feel you are treated unfairly when you don’t have some semblance of the same. You can be made to feel less than others. So,
People suppose that they owed riches by association or identification with something or someone that is rich. In other words, if I am I’m affiliated with wealth or the appearance of it in a country, family, organization or person, then I am wealthy even without work; then it will come automatically. People want wealthy association without work and occupation. Ultimately, this is just laziness.
People are busier falsifying success than they are working to actually achieve it. Many would rather project the image of wealth than perform to achieve it.
- The entire country and its individuals are swamped in debt because of the desire to maintain an image without doing the things to earn it. People LIVE on credit in every sense of the word. Credit is a reward before the work.
- People want everything for doing nothing.
- As a result, people suffer from anxiety, suicidal thoughts and other emotional and mental health issues from failing to live up to a unachievable standard.
- This perspective has now leaked into the church.
Modernized versions of Christianity falsely teach that the benefits of salvation come without the need to work as a servant. But as we learn from prodigal son, we don’t work to earn Salvation, but we do work it when we receive it. The best part is that we enjoy great benefits under our kingdom occupation.
Again, the key is that we still much work! Idleness, slothfulness and laziness are sneaky dangerous sins. This is emphasized in an abundance of scripture.
24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.*
9But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
12And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 7For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
God is not a bad Father
So, the question is, If God considers work important, why would He teach or train us in any other way. Bad parents spoil their children. They give them too much for nothing and fail to teach them the value of hard work. Therefore, they are trained to be lazy. Why do we expect God to spoil us? Why do we expect God to “shower down (physical) blessings” upon us when we aren’t willing to work?
Today, Christendom suffers from the same anxiety and emotional distress as the world because it has fallen in love with the idol of excess and become lazy.
There is a definition for people who want everything for nothing; they are called thieves, and thieves hate the law. The law is designed to maintain a fair connection between work and result so that no one is rewarded unfairly. Therefore, lazy people hate rules and they hate the law because their dreams of excess cannot be realized under rules of work.
1 Timothy 6:1-10 1
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
2 Peter 2:9-10
9The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
- Those who feel entitled to wealth operate under such a dangerous sense of pride, that they begin to treat the spirit realm as if it is a servant of their filthy dreams.
- Don’t be deceived. “Full time ministry” is a nice disguise for laziness.
- It is GOOD to work and serve, even under secular authority. It reminds us of the value of work.
- Today, there exists a lazy, entitled church. They think the world should bow to them and that rewards are result of their association with Jesus alone rather than going to work. This leads to gross heresy and apostasy.
Your dream is not dead, but it does require work. Your setbacks in the world does not mean that you are permanently designated to fail. But recognize that God is not going to give you everything for nothing. You might not have to do as much as others to receive the same result, but you still have to work.
Through work we learn the law of God. It teaches us that you can’t serve God and money, simultaneously. However, it is not impossible to be righteous and have wealth. It just takes the time to teach the value of work and sacrifice and the grace to keep it without being destroyed by it.
23Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
11Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; 13And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; 16Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; 17And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. 19And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. 20As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.