Friday, October 2, 2020

Better to be overlooked

I've been reading Proverbs recently, and this week I came across 12:9:
It is better to be overlooked and have a servant than to be pretentious and have nothing to eat.
While the “have a servant” part raises a lot of questions for us today, especially in 2020, there's another way to understand this.

I've been an avid user of technology all my life. Among my very first words were those about light switches, and my tools have gotten more advanced since then.

I frequently rearrange my work space to fit my needs, and lately that has meant having a dashboard of several screens to be able to keep track of people and material. It's like my own little throne surrounded by silicon servants.

While the workplace today requires a certain amount of keeping up with technology, and sometimes provides its own, there's something to be said for hanging on to older devices that may not be fast enough to be a primary device, but can still be kept active and serving useful purposes.

Recently I read that Mohammed followers want reparations. The CBC also called for a study of the idea, although they seemed to already know the conclusion the study would reach.

Sometimes I wonder what people expect reparations would accomplish. Those speaking with an intent to advocate for the poor often speak in terms of “resources,” as if being poor is a problem to be solved with more stuff.

Reparations may provide a temporary transfer of items from one group to another, but how much would that change?

If the poor do not take on a different understanding of the value of things, there's no reason to expect things to produce the same value for the poor as they do for the rich.

Let's go back to the slavery issue for a minute. Why did it last as long as it did?

It wasn't just about controlling people and oppressing them. The answer is found in understanding the fundamental nature of property.

Property is not just something that has value; it is something that produces value.

A field, for instance, is property that can produce value over and over again, whether raising plants or livestock.

Slaves were living property with intelligence that uniquely provided high amounts of value to plantation operations. That's why it held on as long as it did. Had the Civil War not brought this to an end, the economics of slavery were being supplanted by more powerful and efficient machine operations.

On the flip side of slavery, and being forced to produce value, is a different kind of oppression: not being allowed to produce value.

I once heard an NPR story about a small community of people in a Communist or former Communist country, and they told of how recognition of private property rights—people being able to retain and enjoy the fruits of their labor—allowed the people to become very productive.

The host marveled that the results could be so different even though the same group of people in the same place had the “same resources” as they had before.

It's not about the resources, but how you're allowed to use things and turn them into resources for yourself. One person can look at a natural resource like tree and see a potential rocking chair. Another can look at a tree and see reams of paper for writing and literacy. Freedom allows the owner to choose.

Resources are simply raw materials combined with understanding in order to make something of value.

If someone is handed resources, things that have already been designated to have a certain kind of value, the options for the use of those materials is more limited.

If resources are monetary in nature, such as for a reparations kind of transfer, the situation is akin to winning the lottery and the damage that can entail.

It would be better to start small, and grow something big.

That's why Jesus so often used the analogy of seeds. They are very small and grow into something big, sometimes inversely proportional to their size.

He also said we reap what we sow. We reap the same kind of thing we sowed, more than we sowed, and later than we sowed.

That doesn't just apply to things. That also applies to our spirits and the flesh. Are we sowing covetousness or thankfulness?

“He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:8).

Everlasting life is a privilege available to all that starts with believing in Jesus as your Savior.

Only by His grace we can we forgive and be forgiven of sins in our past and truly invest in God's kingdom to be able to faithfully serve the True King on His throne.

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