During this time of political campaigns in our country, particularly since this is a Presidential election year, the citizens listen to the promises of the candidates as they decide who to vote for. Many people look for the candidate who promises to do the most for them - education, health care, money, etc.
Often, there is no regard for where the money comes from to pay for these benefits. People just want their free health care, education, tax rebates in excess of the tax they paid. They want these things even if it means that the government takes the money from others who earned it.
This type of greed and selfishness is to be expected of those in the world. But it has no place in the life of a Christian. Notice the words of Paul:
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to do this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
Paul is talking about his work in preaching the gospel. He said he worked so as not to be a burden to the congregation. He paid his own way.
Why did Paul do this? He says it wasn't because he didn't have a right to be supported for his work in preaching. He told the Corinthians, “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).
So why did Paul work to support himself while preaching among the Thessalonians? He did so “in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:9). He was teaching a lesson by his actions. That lesson was: work to support yourself without expecting help from others, so you will not be a burden to others. To those who did not want to work, he commanded them to “work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:12), not to hope someone comes along who will provide for them so they don't have to take care of themselves.
There are some people who simply cannot work to provide for themselves. We ought to help such people. But there are others who simply don't want to work, or don't want to work hard, to support themselves and their family. Instead, they want others to take care of them, whether it be the government or someone else. But Paul said, “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Political candidates make great promises about what they will do for you. As Christians, we need to understand what we, as individuals, are responsible for. We must support ourselves and our families as long as we are physically able to do so.
We should also remember that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Whatever we have we have received these things as blessings from God. We must learn “to be content in whatever circumstances” we find ourselves in (Philippians 4:11), even when God has chosen not to bless us as much financially as others.
While many in the world like the idea of receiving benefits at the expense of those who are richer than they are, Christians should be different. We are to be like Paul. Notice his words to the Ephesian elders that are similar to the words to the Thessalonians:
“I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:33-35).
We should support ourselves and help others. How are we to do that? Not by hoping the government takes money from others to help us, but by working hard on our own.
If we vote, let's not let our choice be based on a greedy, “what's in it for me?” mentality. Instead, let's base our vote on what candidates best fit with the role God has given to civil government.