Better Off

Neil Girrard
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Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 6:31-33 π Mt. 7:14 π Mt. 7:21 π Mt. 7:23 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Lk. 6:38 π Lk. 9:25 π Lk. 20:25 π Jn. 7:24 π Jn. 9:3 π Jn. 9:34 π Jn. 17:14-18 π Acts 20:30 π Rom. 6:20 π Rom. 6:22 π Rom. 8:14 π 1 Cor. 2:11 π Eph. 4:28 π Eph. 5:5-6 π Phlp. 4:7 π 2 Ths. 3:10 π 1 Tim. 6:9-10 π 1 Pet. 5:3
Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Lawlessanomos – [459]

Someone once described socialism by saying, “Socialism holds out the hope that a man can quit work and be better off.” This denunciation looks at socialism as nothing but poison in the democratic system. And indeed socialistic democracy is the very machine that produced Adolph Hitler and provides too much of the philosophical basis of Barak Obama and the current Democratic Party. In truth, however, socialism – referring to the notion that goods and property are considered as belonging to the society and not to the individual(s) – is merely one mechanism whereby individuals are brought under control or relieved of their property or constitutional or inalienable human rights.

Capitalism, in some ways socialism’s opposite while in other ways socialism’s twin, is also a mechanism for control or oppression. Capitalism, built on the bodies of displaced, enslaved or exterminated indigenous people (most often so-called “savages” or “lower class”), has also done its part to transform work and employment into little more than slavery, causing men to desire a way to quit work and be better off. “Wage slave” (workers who cannot afford to leave or lose their jobs) is a term that came into use in America in the mid-1800s and “factory fodder” (workers dumbed down by the “educational” system and conditioned to be content in dead-end, no-way-out jobs) is a phrase currently in use in Britain. And all this simply fuels the international corporations and banking industry owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a relatively tiny number of individuals and families.

Behind the scenes, the ultra-rich bankers and “philanthropists” have and still do utilize their wealth to exploit, uphold and manipulate capitalistic and socialistic and democratic and dictatorial systems alike – only proving that no economic system is free from corruption or control. And into this well-developed, interlaced, devilish strategy of economic snares and controls walks the follower of Christ who is expected to live according to standards quite different from being motivated and controlled by the wealth and machinations of this world.

The question we must ask and answer in the fear of God and in the light of what He has revealed to us about our life in Him is: why am I involved in the business, trade or profession which I am in? We are where we should be when we can answer truthfully and sincerely (without deceit or guile of any sort) that “I am in this business or work only as a servant of Jesus Christ. He has led me to this work and therefore I work.”

The believer who desires (and believes this is also the command and direction of the Lord for the believer’s life) to serve the word of God to those around him faces a further perversion of this work. Paul prophesied, “From among your own selves [the elders of Ephesus] men [taking first the title “bishop” and then subsequently “pastor”] will arise, speaking corrupted things [such as Nicolaitan or “delegated” authority over other believers], to draw away the disciples after themselves [forcing men to be in subservience to the hierarchical, worldly authority structure most commonly called “church”].” ( Acts 20:30 ) The believer who is being led by the Lord to proclaim the gospel of Christ must submit to many deceptions in order to take up the career of “pastor” over a “church” because centuries ago the itinerant workers of the gospel (apostles, prophets, heralds, shepherds, teachers, elders, overseers and servants) were replaced with officially titled officers of the same (or of transliterated Greek) names but of vastly different function and characteristic. Where Jesus said that His followers were not to lord over their brothers ( Mt. 20:25-26 , 1 Pet. 5:3 , etc.; top), within two centuries after Christ’s death and resurrection, the clergy were expected to live and act as lords over the various flocks. To seek to both follow the Lord and work within the framework of the “church” virtually and all but entirely guarantees that one’s work is a wasted effort and, in reality, little more than enmity against the cross and kingdom of Christ.

In a culture where capitalism has transformed labor into virtual slavery and entices men to seek socialism’s solace and where socialism no longer contents itself to curb capitalism’s excesses but instead most often masquerades as a thinly-veiled disguise for smarmy elitism and oppression, what place is left for the genuine follower of Christ? To be in the world but not of the world ( Jn. 17:14-18 ) is a balance that only each individual Spirit-led son of God can maintain. The standards of honesty, integrity and obedience to the will of God can only partially confirm us in our and calling just as the pursuit of security, wealth, convenience and comfort and the sacrificing of our relationships with our spouse and children can only call into question the manner in which we pursue our work. We indeed live in the crux of absolute liberty and absolute responsibility for how we live our lives and the peace that surpasses understanding ( Phlp. 4:7 ) will carry us through when rational understanding, as it must at some point do, fails. The one who lives carelessly, following after what is right in his own eyes (lawlessness – Greek anomia [ 459 ]) and neglecting what is right in God’s eyes (His righteousness, truth and holiness) will find himself excluded from the kingdom of God. ( Mt. 7:23 ) The one who labors to gain for himself the things of this world can hardly expect to be well received in the kingdom which is to come ( Lk. 9:25 ) as only he who does the will of God will be allowed to enter into God’s kingdom. ( Mt. 7:21; top )

Work is not a means to earn God’s salvation – neither in a religious sense nor a professional sense. Work is simply an expression of our obedience to God. Those who allow their work to become their “God” are to be as equally pitied and reproved as are those who will not (note well this does not apply to those who cannot) work. That is, the man who works contrary to God’s will is as much in error as the man who refuses to work according to God’s will. Judging a person apart from knowing the will of God for their life is a mistake of colossal proportions – strongly similar to that made by the Pharisees who supposed that the man born blind had also been born in sin and therefore could not possibly have a deeper understanding than theirs ( Jn. 9:34 ), all while Jesus knew that the man’s life, surely several decades long, had been “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” ( Jn. 9:3 ) In this culture saturated with the deceitfulness and deeply-laid economic schemes of the devil and the demonic, we simply must take care to judge nothing and no one according to appearances but rather we must judge all things with a righteous (what is right in God’s eyes) judgment. ( Jn. 7:24; top ) Only in this way will we be “better off” in this life as well as in the eternal age to come.

Let he who has ears hear.

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