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It's Not Fair!
8 November 2011
Do you remember when you were growing up, and your little sister got a bigger slice of pie than you did? Immediately you felt a sense of injustice, and loudly complained to your parents, "She got more than me! It's not fair!"
Do you remember their reply to you? It probably went something along these lines: "Life isn't always fair. There's no guarantee that you're going to get the same as everyone else. Maybe next time your slice will be a little bigger than hers. Just be thankful for what you have, and not envious of what someone else has. If you keep complaining, we'll take your pie away, and then you'll have nothing. Isn't a slice of pie slightly smaller than your sister's better than no pie at all?"
You might also remember the times when you got more than your sister. You were strangely silent at those times! You never opened your mouth to protest, "Mom, I got more than her! It's not fair!" No, you were smugly content to eat your larger portion without any concern at all about your sister's unfairly smaller portion. The only worry you did have was that she would raise her voice to complain about the injustice of it all.
Fast forward back to the present. For nearly two months now, the Occupy Movement has motivated tens of thousands of people to take to the streets to protest against social and economic inequality. In concrete terms, this is expressed in calls, for example, to implement a so-called Robin Hood Tax. Such a name is very significant. If you remember your childhood literature, Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw who was famous for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor." The key words here are "outlaw" and "robbing"!
The 99 Percent Declaration. In this document, they (whoever "they" is!) make various demands, including a constitutional amendment to outlaw (that word again!) all private election campaign contributions, so that all federal political campaigns will be equally and fairly funded through public financing (that is, our tax dollars). They also demand a fair tax code, fair and equal health care for all, as well as fair and equal employment, education, housing, and sexual immorality (homosexual "marriage") for all. Quite an agenda!
According to the proponents of the Occupy Movement, life on planet Earth is not fair because one percent of the population is rich, while the other 99 percent is not rich. They believe that it's basically criminal for anyone to be rich, so, like Robin Hood of old, they want to forcibly confiscate (through the legal system of course!) the "unjust" riches of this "one percent," so that it can be redistributed to the "poor" 99 percent who are not rich.
Well, that sounds fair, doesn't it? Is it really right for some people to be so rich while many others are so poor? Doesn't this line up with the teachings of Christianity? The New Testament definitely addresses this issue:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:17,18)Even Yeshua (Jesus) Himself had something to say about this:
The rich should take pride in their humiliation — since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.... Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of Him to whom you belong? (James 1:10,11; 2:5-7)
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (James 5:1-6)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23,24; see the entire passage Matthew 19:16-30)From these Scriptures, it seems obvious that God takes the part of the poor against the rich, right? But wait a minute! Not so fast!
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry." (Luke 6:24,25)
The Parable of the Rich Fool (see Luke 12:16-21)
The Rich Man and Lazarus (see Luke 16:19-31)
If you look at church history, you will see that most false teachings and heresies did not arise out of pure lies, but rather out of partial truths, or emphasizing one truth to the diminishing or excluding of other truths. The Scriptures quoted above are definitely the truth, but not the WHOLE truth. Consider these other verses:
Some soldiers asked John the Baptist, "What should we do?" He replied, "...be content with your pay." (Luke 3:14)The Parable of the Rich Fool which Yeshua told (referred to above) was occasioned by an encounter He had one day:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:8)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Yeshua replied, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then He said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."This incident really reminds me of the Occupy Movement. I can just see a dedicated protester approaching Yeshua now: "Lord, tell the one percent to divide their riches with us 99 percent." Yeshua's answer would be the same which He gave nearly 2,000 years ago: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."
When I quoted from the Apostle Paul's writings in First Timothy above, I selected the verses that are addressed to the rich (in Occupy terms, the "one percent".) But a number of verses before that, Paul addresses the "99 percent":
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9,10)You don't have to be rich to be eager for, and love, money. The "99 percent" can love money just as much — or even more — than the "one percent." Like the kid who doesn't complain about injustice when HE gets the bigger piece of pie, I imagine that most of the Occupy protesters would not be out there demonstrating if THEY were part of the so-called one percent. Like whining little kids, they're screaming bloody murder because other people got a big, fat slice of pie, while they only got crumbs — and as everyone knows, THAT JUST ISN'T FAIR!
This reminds me of when Yeshua was anointed with perfume less than a week before His execution:
Six days before the Passover, Yeshua came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Yeshua had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Yeshua's honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Yeshua's feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. "Leave her alone," Yeshua replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have Me." (John 12:1-7; Mark 14:7)
This Robin Hood philosophy is also known by a more common name: socialism. As should be evident to all students of history, socialism does NOT work! Just to give a few of the biggest examples, the Soviet Union's economy collapsed after 70 years due to the unsustainable socialist economic system. And rather than following in the USSR's doomed footsteps, Communist China converted most of their economy to a market system based on private property ownership. And this very year, Europe is on the brink of economic collapse because of the socialist policies of most of the countries on that troubled continent. History gives us numerous other examples, both large and small, of how the Robin Hood method of running an economy is certain to fail.
Socialism robs people of their initiative and productivity because it eliminates the rewards of hard work and success. Rather than the rewards being given to those who earn them, they are distributed to everyone "fairly" and "equally". This disincentive causes people to be less productive — why work harder when there's no direct benefit? Why take any financial risks to create new products and services and jobs when all the resulting benefits are taken away and given to those who didn't take any risks?
No, socialism is not the answer to the great problems in the world. Robin Hood is more outlaw than hero. You can't legislate morality. You can't make people kind and generous and caring by imposing it from the top down or the outside in. All throughout the Old and New Testaments, I can't think of any place where God says that everyone in society should be equal in terms of wealth or position or opportunity; or that the rich are evil and all their wealth should be taken away. These are not Biblical ideas.
Here's an interesting quote I just ran across from Ayn Rand, in her book The Virtue of Selfishness
When one observes the nightmare of the desperate efforts made by hundreds of thousands of people struggling to escape from the socialized countries of [Communist Eastern] Europe, to escape over barbed-wire fences, under machine-gun fire — one can no longer believe that socialism, in any of its forms, is motivated by benevolence and by the desire to achieve men's welfare.
No one can deny that society has many ills and injustices. But these problems will not be fixed by socialism. Nor by capitalism. They won't be solved by the Occupy Movement, nor by Wall Street. They won't be fixed by Democrats, nor by Republicans. They won't even be solved by politically-active Christians legislating their supposedly Christian morals onto the nation. There is NO solution through human effort imposed from the outside. The only true and lasting solution starts on the inside.
The way it starts is with a knock. Yeshua knocking on the door of a person's heart, asking to come in:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me. (Revelation 3:20)Yeshua living in our hearts through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit — that's how we can start to remedy the injustices of Godless society. That's how the rich "one percent" can be motivated to sharing and generosity. That's how the "99 percent" can be motivated to reject greed and the desire to get rich, and be content with what they have. True followers of Yeshua are the ones who have the wherewithal to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk. May they arise — and may their numbers greatly increase — in this desperate hour of need!
Yeshua said, "Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14:23)
In the end, you're not going to begin solving any of society's ills by occupying Wall Street or any other physical place. Change will come only when Yeshua is occupying YOUR heart!
This article is 9th a series of articles on this Web site related to American Politics and Culture which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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