The Garden of Eden was a glorious place. The grass spread like a carpet under Adam and Eve’s feet. They never encountered a thorn or a weed. The fruit and nuts hung from trees in abundance. Adam and Eve only needed to reach up to have their needs met.
The animals were congenial and peaceful. The lion and the lamb had no problem cuddling under the same tree. Bears and bobcats never tangled and snakes and lizards were beautiful creatures.
Adam and Eve roamed freely, taking of the bounty God had given them until Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted them with entitlement. Of course, Satan didn’t say, “You are entitled to be gods, knowing good and evil.”
He simply put the thought in Eve’s mind, when he said, “in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” Eve bought his subtle lie, although it was a half-truth. Adam and Eve did need to know good from evil, but they would be far from becoming gods.
They needed to experience life to really appreciate the difference between good and evil and to make the choice for good, but Satan made it sound like by taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, they would instantly be like God.
He didn’t tell them that the path to becoming more godlike or righteous is hard work: physically, mentally and spiritually. They would fall from this glorious garden to a place where they would get their bread “by the sweat of their brows” and children would be borne in sorrow.
Natural law, and the law of the harvest, would be permitted to take its course.
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
“And unto Adam he said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” —Genesis 3:16-19
Anyone who thinks that the path to entitlement is different today is suffering from delusions. We live in a universe governed by natural laws. If we sit around all day, our muscles grow weak. If we don’t exercise our minds, we lose the ability to think clearly.
If we do not provide for ourselves, we give up our ability and talents a little at a time until finally we have lost them altogether. If we expect others to care for our needs without any effort on our part, we give away our freedom. Our providers only have to decide that we are not worth their effort, and we don’t eat.
Unless we take matters into our own hands to provide for ourselves, we will die. We can bite the hand that feeds us, by rioting and looting, but we cannot force someone to provide for us.
We can steal, and kill, but when the providers are gone, what then? The natural law is clear. Those who are self-reliant are survivors. Those who totally depend on others are slaves to the whim of their benefactors.
The truth is, we are not entitled to anything except the equal opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Justice says that we are entitled to the fruits of our labors but, even then, we might not receive the reward of our hard work.
For example, if we put in the effort to sow our crops, we should be able to eat our produce, but sometimes Mother Nature has different ideas. Storms, frost and drought foil our labors.
We are forced to turn to God for mercy. In His infinite wisdom He will grant us our desire, by giving us more labor to perform, or He inspires feelings of charity in another person who helps us get on our feet. In this instance, we do not give away our freedom.
We feel obligated to help and bless our benefactor for their kindness. We willingly plant our crops another year expecting to have better luck. We even plant a few more rows of vegetables because we want to be like our neighbor who was so kind to us.
Our eyes are open to ways to help others. We gain a godlike perspective. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You feel the godlike joy of friendship.
On the other hand, if we don’t feel obligated to our benefactor and decide not to plant a crop, expecting him to take care of us, we become a slave. Our benefactor may see our laziness and decide not to help us again. Then where are we?
If the government steps in to force our benefactor to help us even if we have chosen not to put in the effort to plant our garden, resentment rises. The first year, the benefactor may share his crop unwillingly but, the next year, chances are that the benefactor will not plant his garden, expecting the government to force someone to help him.
What happens to us and our benefactor? We are both without food for the winter. Even worse, we hate each other because we blame each other for our predicament. It is easier to riot and loot than to take the blame and do something about it.
There are great benefits in God’s law of work and self-reliance. When we work, our health improves. The farmer, the rancher, the millworker and the industrialist all use their bodies to perform their labors. They don’t have to run marathons and have exercise programs. They get their exercise doing their work and exercise their minds by solving problems and educating themselves with better business practices.
What about the office workers? They may have to employ an exercise program for their bodies but they must use their brain constantly. Like the body, the mind needs to be exercised. Just like lifting weights strengthens our bodies, our mind grows more agile as we use it to solve problems.
As we solve problems, we become more creative and more like the most creative being in the universe. God is a creator, and He is not finished with us. If we adopt the entitlement mentality, we give up our creativity and consign ourselves to the slavery of thinking someone else will solve our problems.
God never intended us to feel entitled to a world without work. He knew the joy of work and how much our self-image depends on our ability to create and work. Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam was given the task of naming every creature and to have dominion over everything.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” —Genesis 1:28-29
God didn’t set a pile of fruit in front of Adam and say, “Here you are. Enjoy your meal.” Adam was expected to pick the fruit from trees and gather herbs. God is a God of work. It is not His plan for us to sit around or frolic through life gathering toys.
We are His children and, as such, we should emulate Him by being creative. He labored six days to make the earth. He only rested one. He was a producer.
Look at the magnificent world we live in. Just one glorious sunset on the water could have been enough to wow His children, but He made glorious snowcapped mountains, emerald meadows, millions of arrays of flowers and trees.
He created a myriad of fishes and plants to fill the oceans. He made the star-filled universe and the sky with its magnificent power to recycle the water and bless the earth. He made organisms that we can’t even see.
Did He sit in the clouds and twiddle His thumbs and expect someone to take care of Him? No! The idea of entitlement was repugnant to Him then and it is today. We should be ashamed of ourselves if we think we are entitled to a life without hard work! PD