For the last 18 months, presidential primaries, campaigns, debates, the election, and finally the inauguration dominated the news. This is why I posted my last blog that included a prayer focused on the presidency and our government. Now, let’s turn to an equally important topic: “We the people.”
Whenever “we the people” ask our government to do too much, we get into trouble. For example, “we the people” asked the government for affordable healthcare for all Americans. Initially, this sounded good, but in the end U.S. citizens were not allowed to retain their personal doctors, and rather than the Affordable Health Care Act costing $2,000 less per family per year as promised, it costs $2,000 more.
“We the people” asked the government to take care of the poor, and now about half of the country is receiving some form of government assistance. “We the people” asked the government to take care of unwed mothers, and now unwed mothers are having more babies to receive more government assistance.
If “free” college becomes law, I shudder to think who will pay for it and what will be the long-term implications of such a policy. Wait a second! I do know who will pay for “free” college for students who won’t need to save a penny toward their own education—“we the people”! All of us with a job will pay Uncle Sam, and we will pay dearly.
With each incremental step, when “we the people” hand the government more control—and with control comes power—hoping for a perceived benefit in return, we lose another aspect of our individual freedoms. Ben Franklin understood this when he said, “Anyone who gives up a little freedom for a little security, deserves neither and will lose both.” In other words, it is only a matter of time until a small group at the top uses their power for oppressive purposes against the people.
To gain the freedoms that our nation has enjoyed, Franklin and our Founding Fathers had to declare war on the King of England, and an immense loss of life ensued. History shows that once “we the people” hand over control of a segment of society to the government, it is exceedingly difficult to get it back.
In order to maintain personal freedom, each citizen (or at least the overwhelming majority) must embrace personal responsibility. President John F. Kennedy understood this when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
In a 2016 speech, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas described that while there is much talk today about freedom and liberty, there is little discussion about personal responsibility. Using his own upbringing as an example, which included learning that decisions have consequences, Thomas went on to explain that liberty and personal responsibility are inextricably linked.
But even more importantly than Franklin, Kennedy, and Thomas, the Bible teaches that personal responsibility is foundational to life, family, and culture. The Apostle Paul said, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he shall not eat,” and “[I]f anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (2 Thess. 3:10, 1 Tim. 5:8, NASB).
In summary, the Bible does not direct us to government handouts, nor to being a burden to others, but teaches us to live responsibly.
As God shows you His ways and intervenes on your behalf (yes this approach to life does take faith!), you will see God meet your needs and will likely have enough to help others in need. In other words, rather than a system that forces the redistribution of wealth, God calls Christians to take personal responsibility for their lives and, by freely choosing to do so, help those in need.
Too often we complain about what is taking place in Washington D.C. when the solution largely resides among “we the people”! What a healthy and revolutionary idea—and it’s from the Bible.
Heavenly Father, too often “we the people” have depended on government to take care of us rather than You. Right now, I turn from this mindset and, with Your help, I take responsibility for my own life and look to You to supply what I need. As You show me Your ways and provide for me, I also purpose to help others in need. If things are not going the way I prefer, I choose not to blame the government, an ethnic group, nor a class of people. Also, give me the grace to help others take responsibility for their lives. Show me what steps to take and make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen.