What We Really Need
“Then he (Jesus) said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)
The ongoing “United Auto Workers” strike against GM, Ford and Stellantis got me thinking on this topic again. UAW union workers went on strike, demanding a 46% increase in wages to reflect the highest earners in the company, and to lower their working hours to 32 hours per week, while being paid for a 40-hour week! When a union leader was asked about the reasonability of the strike, he said, “We deserve more, because we make this company go. If the executives are making 46% more, so should we.”
While I might accused of oversimplifying a complex issue, I believe Jesus’ teaching applies here, and even more broadly to one of the greatest sins facing us: Greed. Greed is connected to covetousness which is a violation of at least the 7th, 9th, and 10th commandments! While we cannot see every man’s motivation behind their actions, we can see our own, and give a clear and adequate warning to others. The case for Jesus in Luke 12 was a man who apparently thought a certain situation was unfair, and felt that he deserved an equal inheritance with his brother. Jesus addresses neither the fairness, nor equity, but gets to the man’s heart. Though Mosaic Law dealt with such civic matters, the Son of God handles the weightier matters that impact one’s eternity and relationship with God!
I heard a recent testimony where a man remembers his father going without food at times, to make sure his wife and children would eat. This sounds so foreign to the modern world, which would likely argue that they should all eat equally, or even that the man should eat first to have the strength to provide income for his family. The more likely case would be “every man for himself”, where the father would leave, fail to care for his family and only make child care payments when forced to by the State.
Paul addressed the issue of work to the church, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) He instilling a hard-work ethic that would jolt, even jump the most lethargic hearts into great service towards God and His Church. Jesus gets to the root of the underlying problem, and only a heart-change will do. Sometimes the answer is not more or less work, but a change in the areas we work to line up with Kingdom values. Maybe working a 60-hr week, while neglecting time with family and church, all to provide the “higher standard of living”, is not what God has prescribed, but rather, a depth of riches in other areas!
God blessed our nation tremendously over the years to be a blessing to the world in so many ways. It has never been perfect, but America has not only been used to bring the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the world, but it has also raised the overall standard of living with food and innovations, and passed on its ideals as well. Tragically, like Israel throughout its history, during those patterns of growth and prosperity, America has lost sight of God, and has put its trust in created things over the Creator (Romans 1:20-25). “You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth… If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. “ (Deuteronomy 8:17-19)
I don’t believe that God’s principles have ever changed. He alone raises up and puts down nations. He is glorified by those who obey Him, and also glorifies His Name by punishing the haughty by His Holiness. Now, we have a world growing in turmoil. A nation that was once leading the way in work ethic, missionary service, and individual dignity, has now lost its witness, and the rest of the world is feeling its impact! A nation that is 33 trillion dollars in debt, with the world's largest 23 trillion GDP, addresses only the surface of our problems! Food inflation, supply chain issues, school secularization, government corruption, crimes of every kind, abortions, drug addictions, overdoses, depression rates and suicides have all been affected. Most of us just don’t understand how all these institutions are interconnected and interdependent. Prosperity simply isn’t sustainable without a mutual trust developed by godly lives. No amount of external tweaking can produce middle-class prosperity, when private sins are left unchecked.
Sin is ever rampant, and pride goes before a fall. We are often the most unguarded, and failing to put our trust in Him, when it seems like we have our every need met. So is the solution to the greed exhibited on the UAW picket lines switching to more AI and robotics, or does the problem go far deeper than what they currently identify?
We must be as diligent as ever, letting our lives set an example, and our words proclaim the Hope that has not yet been understood by the world. Let our world see HOW and WHERE and WHO we work for, and by the Spirit, let their consciences be convicted, and turn their heart towards our only Hope! What a privilege it is to serve Him!