In Dale's Words

Back to Blog Posts

Widsom in 140 Characters

Nobody gives you something for nothing.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

You get what you pay for.

You’ll never make as much money working for somebody else.

You’ve got to pull your own weight.

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Anything worth having is worth working for.

Hard work is its own reward.

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

A hard-working man is his own best friend.

Never trust a man with soft hands and a $10 haircut.

Be your own man.

               

 This is just a small collection of the “tweet-worthy” wisdom I can remember hearing from the older men of my youth. You could list it under the heading of “The Gospel of Self-Reliance.” Most of you have heard similar sayings and could no doubt add more to the list. Fact is, I’d be happy for you to send me your additions that fall under the same heading. I’m sure you have some good ones.

Many of my family role models—coal miners, farmers and carpenters—were men who made their living with grit, sweat, and the cuts and bruises that go along with labor. These men ingrained in me the absolute necessity of self-reliant work at an early age. Tobacco never sets on its own, and coal, well, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how men used to bring coal out of the ground. There was a given to the rhythm of this kind of work-a-day life, and it flowed from the value that one never needed a handout. If you could do it yourself, you were expected to get it done—no excuses. No one else was going to do it for you. The world owes you nothing. Hard work was the backbone of a man’s pride, and such pride in self-reliance was offered to me as the highest virtue.

All of this sounded like truth to me, and by that I mean that it appeared to work for all those folks who lived by it. The problem with it began to glare at me, however, as I got older. If we could control every detail of our lives and the lives of those we love, a work-ethic theology would be sufficient. But when things happen that we cannot anticipate, control, or manipulate, then our theology needs some help, and so do we. Self-reliance can take us only so far. It cannot give us hope when we are left helpless. It cannot get us all the way home, so to speak.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronts us in the first Beatitude with the inadequacy of self-reliance. He doesn’t make this confrontation on the basis of how we meet the competitive demands of this world with each other, but with the reality that we are creatures of the Holy Creator. In light of this comparison, we are totally without resources to live on His level apart from His help. The first step of a follower of Jesus is to recognize the weakness of self-reliance and turn to God for help.

God delights when we take this first step. Jesus says that we are blessed, approved of God, even “happy” when we confess our need for God and His kingdom resources. We cannot work our way into spiritual resources by any means. They come by grace—a gift which is received from God. Here, a key tenant of the self-reliant gives way. We can receive the highest and most satisfying life freely. It comes by His labor for us.

You can tweet that.

 

Categories: Adult Ministries, Student