As humans, our sinful nature compels us to desire a lifestyle that is free from work. We covet being able to retire from our jobs and golf the day away.

God calls us to work and Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says,

 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’

As God’s children, our main motivation for work should be to glorify our creator. However, because of our fallen nature, we need more compelling motivation.

Phillip Holmes of Desiring God Ministries shares the dangers of socialism and how the fear of poverty motivates us to work.

“If you remove the fear of poverty, you remove the motivation to work.”

According to Phillip, many people work simply to avoid poverty. Everyone wants to be able to put food on the table and have a place to sleep. This drives us to get up each day and go to work, even when we don’t feel like we want too.

The problem is social programs like welfare, which grant assistance to families with low or no income are intended to be temporary. However, some people abuse the system and continue to utilize the programs with no intention of seeking their own means of support.

For much of his childhood, Phillip was raised by his grandmother, who accepted government assistance. However, it was a means to an end.

“The value of hard work was always a part of our family, my grandmother never wanted the next generation and the generation after to rely on social programs. It was always a temporary means to an end.”

Not everyone Phillip’s community worked as hard as his grandmother, they saw government assistance programs as a permanent safeguard that allowed them to continue to live irresponsibly.

“What eventually happened is you saw the cycle of poverty, over and over again people were taking advantage of these programs and living very reckless lifestyles, without fear of consequences because they knew that they had a safety net that wasn’t originally meant for them.”

This safety net allowed for very few consequences as a result of their actions and it perpetuated the negative behavior.

“If you fear that there are going to be severe consequences to your actions, you’re very careful about the decisions that you make and you’re more motivated to make sure that you get an education, you go to work, and you do everything you can to provide for your family.”

Highlight: How the fear of poverty motivates us

What motivates you to work?