A few years ago a popular Christian radio program featured a medical doctor who had learned to live in an extraordinarily thrifty manner.
He supported his family on just a fraction of what other families required. His message to Americans was this: we are far too materialistic and wasteful. We spend millions on our craving for possessions.
He was correct on that point. But then he went on to explain how people really needed to live—like him! This man was a borrower. He bought little and borrowed much. And he claimed that’s the way all people needed to be. Instead of buying an electric saw—borrow your neighbor’s. Instead of buying a lawnmower—borrow your neighbor’s. And instead of buying rakes, shovels, and hedge trimmers—borrow all these from your neighbors. By doing so (rather than giving in to the temptation to “buy, buy, buy”) a person can live modestly and save more money.
Of course, there was a fatal flaw in this philosophy. The flaw was this: everyone couldn’t do as he did, because he was living and borrowing at the expense of others. If no one purchased anything—no mower, no power tools, no rakes, and shovels—no one would own anything to lend to those who buy nothing but only borrow. This doctor didn’t have the sense to realize that his “perfect lifestyle” depended on the “evil materialism” of others.
Work Vs. Family
Consider the way many in our culture condemn what they call “workaholism.” Over the years I have been badgered about my own “workaholism.” I’ve heard it a thousand times: “You need to spend more time with family.” I recall a former supervisor who used to preach to me about “spending more time with family.” He would routinely leave work every day at 1630 and take 30-day blocks of leave at the busiest times of the year—all in the name of “putting his family first.”
Yet he did all this at his subordinates’ expense. We, his battalion chaplains, covered for him. We handled the emergencies he left behind. His “putting his family first” forced us to take time away from ours. And not only did he fail to acknowledge our sacrifices and contribution to the brigade—as well as to his family. He rewarded us with criticism for “not doing as he did.” In fact, we had to defend our own service to God and to the soldiers of the brigade.
Serving for Others
Forgive me for saying this, but Americans live at the expense of others as well. No, I’m not alluding to the sweatshops in Honduras. I’m saying that Americans live at the expense of our men and women of the Armed Forces. A very small proportion of Americans bear the burden of protecting our freedoms, deploying for more than a year at a time, and endangering their lives for the sake of the many.
Unfortunately, many of our fellow countrymen are clueless that they live and prosper at the expense of a few brave men and women. They are not only blissfully ignorant of this reality. Many Americans don’t even see the validity or necessity of the military. They identify our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines as “part of the problem of what’s wrong with America.”
But Americans who preach Pacifism and condemn military service can only practice their beliefs—or survive—at the expense of others. The freedom they have to live as they believe is secured by those who have the courage to conquer the evil that threatens America every day. Every American cannot be a Pacifist. Not everyone can “do as he does.” Americans can only be Pacifists as long as there are some who are willing to fight to defend our freedoms and our way of life. But though there are only a precious few who are willing to serve in the military, do not lose heart. The future has always been decided by a few—the few men and women of action who’ve had the guts and the vision to secure humanity’s dreams of freedom and make them a reality.
Dear Father in heaven, I live and enjoy the blessing of liberty, justice, and peace at the expense of those who serve, sacrifice, fight, and die for America. Please bless them and help me to do what I can to support them. Please, dear Lord, open my eyes to the contributions of others and help me to be thankful. Amen.