Alan is a middle-aged man who lives in a depressed area of Michigan. Alan has had all of the opportunities that are available in the area as well as the support of a loving hard-working family. Many of his family members have also offered Alan opportunities over the years to work. Most of them are farmers and while farm work is hard the opportunities to work and excel have always been there. Over the years the family has offered to help Alan find work, work for them and move into a productive life, but it has had little impact on him.
Alan’s family is a very close-knit family that deeply cares for each other. In that care there has been little that they have not done for those in need especially family members. Alan has had all of the opportunities necessary to live a meaningful and productive life, but “Alan is Alan” as his mother once told me.
Alan has an attitude of “taking!” Entitlement! In his mind it is easier and more rewarding to “get something for nothing” than it is to set your sights on a goal, work hard for it and then earn it. “Heck no, why work?”
Alan has also jumped on the bandwagon of disability. Now before I start a riot, I want to make one thing clear. If a person is truly disabled and unable emotionally or physically to provide for themselves it is the responsibility of society, especially Christians, to provide for them as needed. Our goal should also be to provide for them with exceptional generosity and love. Helping the helpless is one of the most “God-honoring” things we can do as Christians!
But Alan is lazy. Over the years I have come to know this young man as one who does not have any physical or emotional limitations. He is strong and has always been in good health but he chooses to not exert himself. In this small town you can usually find Alan at most of the local church free community dinners, and the free clothing store where he takes great pride in finding “like-new” clothing. Alan is quite bold in his “taking” attitude, and going to the emergency room whenever he has the slightest ailment is not a problem, all without ever opening his wallet. Hmmm, I’m not sure he even has one!?
The Bible tells us that the man who refuses to work should not eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."
When we refuse to use the health, strength and opportunities God has given to us in order to provide for ourselves it is dishonoring of God. If I am able to use the abilities that God has bestowed on me and yet refuse to, I am essentially dishonoring the gift that God has given me. As beings created in the image of God we are to have a heart of giving not taking. We are to do our best as a way of honoring our Creator and establishing ourselves.
In the movie The Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow meets with his first mate to assemble a crew. At the end of their conversation they repeat the pirate’s code: “Take everything you can! Give nothing back!” Such is the attitude that has crept into Alan’s heart. He finds no reason to give, only take and he refuses the idea of hard work and self-provision.
As a “taker” from life Alan has chosen to walk away from any sense of responsibility. In some ways he has become a product of his environment. Now don’t get me wrong, Alan is not without the majority of fault, but he has certainly been influenced by the culture surrounding him. This small town has suffered so much over the past several years. Business’ have vacated the area while drugs and laziness have filled the voids. Statically most of the residents of the area are either retired from a business that use to be there or they are struggling farmers who can’t compete with the larger farms nationwide. In this situation neither the retirees nor farmers can financially afford to relocate, they are stuck!
At times I see “takers” as “leeches!” These people live off the hard work of others. They spend more time looking for ways to be supported by the government and other social agencies than they do for legitimate opportunities to care for themselves and others. The idea of being a responsible child of God is far from the realm of consideration. Unfortunately, drug use has flourished among this group of individuals. It has become an escape from reality. It has become commonplace. It has become blatant!
Alan lives in a trailer park known for drug trafficking and transient people. Many who live in the trailers are just passing through town, just trying to get away from something or someone. Alan finds himself in the middle of this culture and goes from trailer to open trailer depending on the night, available food and drugs.
It is not hopeless! Alan could leave this environment but he chooses not to. Many times, it’s easier to “take all you can and give nothing back!” For Allan, it is all about him! But the good news is that God never gives up, and neither should we! God will never give up on any individual, always trying to “wake them up” to a life of love, responsibility, servanthood and relationship with Him. Even when “It’s all about me” God still reigns.
NOTE TO SELF: Love others, but don’t enable them