By Patrick Hawthorne
Most have heard the old proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life.” While the origin of this proverb may be unclear, the meaning is quite clear. If you feed a hungry man a fish, but never take the time to teach him how to fish, the solution to his hunger problem will be short lived.
But, what if we were to take this proverb a bit further? Suppose the hunger needs of the person was met by giving the person a fish every day in lieu of teaching the person to fish? Would the person be any better off? Sure, their hunger problem would be solved but at what expense? They would not learn anything of value.
Helping others in need is never a bad thing. However, when the help takes the turn from ‘hand-up,’ to a constant ‘hand-out,’ the person being assisted never learns or progresses. They become as a tree planted by a dried up river bed whose leaf becomes withered and frail, eventually falling into decay. The same principle applies with our spiritual walk.
Imagine if, after accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, we were instructed to sit back all the day long and do absolutely nothing for the Kingdom of God. Eventually our attitude would turn from gratitude to a feeling of entitlement. Eventually we would be yelling at the angels, “What do you mean you are out of bonbons?” Rest assured… Our Heavenly Father has much more sense than to allow His little chicks to rule the roost.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13).
To, “work-out,” implies a process of training and learning – a cultivation process – in order to grow in spiritual maturity. The Greek word for work-out is Katergazomai which means to carry out to the goal or to its ultimate conclusion. But, what are we to work out? That is simple. We are to work out – carry to the ultimate conclusion – all that God has worked in us through Jesus Christ.
To think that salvation is simply saving us from the penalty of death is to seriously limit the full intent of salvation. Salvation is the process by which God works in us…or downloads for the computer geeks…ALL the blessings and gifting’s associated with the process of becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus. Yet, this process of working out our salvation requires effort on our part.
Does this mean God will leave us to our own devices, to figure it out by ourselves? Not at all…for God is in us, both to will and do for His good pleasure. He will not only strengthen and energize us so that we are able to fulfill His purpose, but will create in us the desire and the longing to carry out that purpose. After all…He is the God of the hand-up, not the hand-out. Be blessed.