I was recently stopped at the grocery store and asked to write an opinion piece on the topic in the title. I am a pastor. That means I am going to write this piece from a Biblical perspective.
I would also like to mention that I have written on a related and more important topic in my opinion piece on the virtues of plodding.
I am also going to talk about a number of controversial topics that should provoke us to rethink the subject of money as a whole. Lord willing, it will even make us take a self-reflective look inward at our sins and look to Jesus Christ for the answers.
Taking money from the government is an interesting subject. On one side we have the fact that government is a gift provided by God with the purpose of intimidating people out of evil behavior.
That is one of the major purposes behind the death penalty. It makes an example of evil doers and reminds us that we should not do evil unless we desire to meet such an end.
The Bible also teaches that when there are no godly men to lead, the wicked take their place and everyone hides. Conversely, everyone rejoices when godly men lead in the political world.
This brings up the topic of taking money from the government. Take special note of how I worded the topic under discussion. I did not say, “taking government bailouts” or “taking help from the government.” I said, “taking money from the government.” There is a huge implied difference.
The difference is the source of the money. When we say, “taking money from the government,” it is important to remember that the government got that money by taking it from you. Then those in governmental office choose where that money ought to go.
Look at Social Security, for example. Social Security is theft. Social Security is stealing money from people who never had an opportunity to give it away and giving it to someone else.
The intention behind Social Security is admirable. The essential plan is for Americans to financially sustain the elderly by allowing those in governing positions to properly allocate those funds.
The problem is that it is in the hands of untrustworthy people, the government. Thus, Social Security has actually been used to fund more than just the financial needs of the elderly. According to CaseyResearch, “The government took your hard-earned money and spent it on its bloated staff and military adventures.” I encourage you to read the linked article.
We were told last year that Social Security will run out by 2034. Some people are starting to think that the end of Social Security will happen sooner. This suspicion is due to the dramatic inflation we are watching take place daily.
Do you see what happens when more government is involved? Elected officials take your taxes. They pocket a significant amount of them. Then they redistribute the wealth as if you are incompetent to do so. Then they tell you that the government helped you out.
The government didn’t help you out. It stole your money and gave a small portion back to you.
The Bible calls that slavery. The Bible says, “The rich rules over the poor, / And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7, NASB95).
This point is illustrated by the story of a great man named Joseph. Joseph had been kidnapped by his brothers and sold into slavery. Joseph worked hard and was a man with so much character that each time he was sold to a new slave owner, Joseph was entrusted with headship over the entire operation.
Joseph eventually became the second in command over all of Egypt at Pharaoh’s command. Every city, state and nation would do well to have leaders with character like Joseph.
Eventually, a famine hit Egypt. By the time the famine arrived, Joseph had stored seven years’ worth of food for the entire country. No one had food. So all the people of Egypt bought food from Joseph. When the people ran out of money, they paid Joseph with their livestock. When the people ran out of livestock, they paid Joseph with land and themselves. In other words, they sold themselves into slavery to Pharaoh.
That is the nature of all governments. The more power you give, the more power it will take. This is accomplished in large part by controlling money. The seemingly easy way out is usually never the answer. Nothing is ever free: “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.”
What will be the end result of letting the government take more money from you to give less back? Slavery. Just as Pharaoh in Joseph’s day enslaved his own people through controlling the money, so goes every government. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The Bible provides us with an answer to the government’s enslaving tendencies though:
The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back. (Prov. 21:25–26)
A lazy man does not roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a man is diligence. (Prov. 12:27)
People who work hard have money. Do you want wealth? Do you want independence from government slavery? Do you want the joy of taking care of others in need at will?
You can do all of that by working hard, wisely investing your money and building your wealth.
We live in an unprecedented era of wealth making. Wealth does not produce happiness. It produces ease. It does not produce happiness. Only Jesus Christ produces genuine happiness.
Nevertheless, the Bible calls us to freedom. It calls us to freedom through faith in Christ. When you have faith in Christ, you will produce temporal freedom through hard work and honesty.
Stop looking at what other people have. That is the sin of covetousness. Instead, work hard, and build something.
Stop getting yourself into debts you cannot pay: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, NASB95).
Don’t become a slave. Become a king, and voluntarily give to him who has need (Ephesians 4:28).
The Rev. Andrés Reyes is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Perry.