Saturday, August 4, 2018
Give a Man a Fish
As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you will feed him for one meal. Teach him to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime."
This mindset, of "giving a man a fish," has become all too common in our society and more importantly, in the church of Jesus Christ.
Of course there is nothing wrong with giving. We all need help at some point, at several times in our lives. We feed infants when they are very young. We may tie also their shoes. Yet at some point, we want them to learn to pick up a fork or spoon and feed themselves or tie their own shoes. Those who do everything for their children even when they are grown will produce adults who are incapable of finding the fulfillment of independence and productivity.
It is the same in the modern church. We have programs to feed the hungry, pass out clothing and meet any number of other "felt" needs. These are all good when anyone is in need or one who incapable of meeting his or her own needs.
Yet we often fail to teach people spiritual independence, i.e the ability to seek God on our own. We tell them what the Bible means in certain situations. We teach practical life solutions. But we often fail at teaching the basic concepts of spiritual growth, such as Bible study, prayer and a deep personal relationship with The Living God.
Don't get me wrong. We will always need each other and sometimes circumstances press us into a state of temporary dependence. But that should not be our default mindset.
Reversing the Two Great Commandments
Jesus said that the first great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Could it be that we have reversed these two great commandments - that we have placed love of, and connection to, others above love of, and connection to, God?
Our mindset can be exposed by answering a simple question: "What should a Christian be doing?" If we say, feeding the poor, performing acts of kindness and visiting the sick, we are only half right.
Some of the great works of God have included translating the Bible, preparing powerful sermons and personal Bible study and personal prayer time. These do not always directly cause us to interact with people. But they can affect the lives of others enormously!
Which Produces More Good Works?
The interesting thing is that when we teach people to walk with God, all the other good works will naturally, or rather supernaturally, flow out of that relationship with God.
Love of God always produces love of people!
On the other hand, if we focus on people first and foremost, good works can be done apart from the power and blessing of God. Many who do not even know God do good works. They help and benefit others physically but not spiritually!
Man's greatest need is to know and walk with God!
This eternal need far supersedes physical and emotional needs, which we often consider to be of utmost importance. Of course, good works should never cease.
But let us not be guilty of "giving a man a fish" but not "teaching him to fish!"