CHOPPING DOWN CHERRY TREES
By Eddie Hedges
A few days ago, someone jokingly posted on Facebook, “I’m pretty sure Obama chopped down the cherry tree and lied about it!” This was in reference to George Washington cutting down the cherry tree and taking responsibility for his action. I thought I would add my bit of humor to the fun, so I responded, “Obama was afraid the cherry tree would become productive and bear fruit, so he cut it down.” This thought came back to me later. How often do we “chop down the cherry tree” of people’s lives and make them unproductive whereby they bear no fruit? And what are the consequences?
Do we help people when we do things for them that they could and should do for themselves? My first thought was the things parents sometimes do for their children. Maybe it’s doing the child’s homework or school project. Our intentions are good and sincere, however, is it really in the best interest of the child? How will they learn if someone else does their school work for them?
To illustrate this, suppose your child was learning to play the piano. Their schedule is extremely busy, so you decide to “practice” playing the piano for them. How would they ever learn to play the piano if you did the lessons for them? This example applies to all areas of their life. There are many things in life in which people need to do for themselves for them to become productive.
What about things our government does that may help people initially, but when it becomes a way of life, it actually hurts them? So many programs appear to be noble and beneficial, but in so many cases they actually hurt the people over a long period of time.
Just after President Obama was re-elected in the 2012 election, I questioned how I should, as a Christian, view the government’s role in Public Assistance, Welfare, Minimum Wage, Disability, and other programs to assist the needy.
First, I have concluded from searching the Bible that we are to help the widows, orphans, and the “poor among you.” I have no problem with assistance to any of these groups and believe it is our duty and privilege to do so as individuals and as a nation.
I think the area most people have a problem is defining the “poor among you” aspect. As I searched the Scriptures, I found that those who are capable of working are expected and commanded to do so. Throughout the Book of Proverbs the sluggard, lazy, and those disinclined to work are condemned. The Apostle Paul, states in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should be eat.” Notice, this is commanded and that these words come from the Bible, not from me.
The problem today is that many, not all, of those on some form of government assistance are fully capable of doing work. It may not be the type of work they desire, but if we are truthful, many people work in jobs in which they do not enjoy, however, they are still working.
You can question the availability of jobs and the weak job market. In certain industries and areas of the nation, this is a problem. I believe there is a “location” problem in that there are plenty of jobs available, but people would need to relocate and retrain. In this case, people can find work.
Work is honorable. We need to educate our children and in some cases adults to this fact. I personally believe the crime rate among youths would drop dramatically if we put these young people to work. When you have unproductive time on your hands and you are constantly hanging out with your peers is when trouble breeds.
Second, in my search of the Scriptures, I concluded that we are all called to be givers, not takers. We are to share and help each other. The question is, “How are we going to be givers if we are not working?” Will we be able to contribute to society and our fellowman if we are takers? Again, I am not referencing the widows, orphans, and the true poor among us. What we do not want is to feel like we have been taken advantage of by someone who is “gaming the system.” And this is the source of the problem. Those “gaming the system” are the takers and not the givers.
Third, let’s look at the issue of Minimum Wage. Employers have a responsibility to pay a fair wage and benefits according to the local market and skills required for each position.
However, a minimum wage position should not be a career choice. People should be educated and encouraged to grow and develop. To grow is to develop naturally, to become better by degrees, to mature and become. Develop is to improve or build up and progress.
Is life not about growth and development? Do we not progress in our education? Does a sport team not practice to improve? Why should our career and work be any different? We should not be content to get the “minimum” out of life, including our work. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Know ye not that they who run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” We are to strive to obtain the prize, not to be satisfied with the “minimum.”
I believe in a system that builds up our fellowman and not in one that tears down. What is wrong with a system that encourages success, growth and accomplishment, and individual effort, so we can contribute of the benefit of others and for the betterment of society? To me, that is where our true reward is found.
Leadership speaker and writer, John Maxwell stated, “You cannot harvest what you have not planted. You cannot harvest where you have not planted.” For people to be contributor’s they must plant seeds, nurture and care for the “cherry tree”, and harvest the fruit. But equally important as the fruit the cherry tree bears are the new seeds the tree produces. Those seeds are to be planted to bear even more fruit. I call his compounding the growth. Look what happens when we do this, the benefit or fruit bearing continues on for years and years. Often there is the bearing of fruit even after we have passed away from this life to our reward in heaven. Jesus even stated in John 15:1-8 that we are to “bear fruit”.
So, what are we doing as individuals and as a Nation? Are we “chopping down the cherry tree” or are we nurturing the tree for it to be productive and bear fruit for the benefit of all?
Eddie Hedges is the author of THE HEART OF FINANCIAL MATTERS, SEEKING A SERVANT’S HEART. For more information about the book and additional articles, please check my website, www.authorwebservices-gem.net/Authorsxpress/Author.