Wednesday 12 December 2012


There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Some young adults have an entitlement mentality. Even when they have grown up and are supposed to work and fend for themselves, they still want to depend on their parents for financial handouts.

Many Asian parents support their children through university. It is only proper that once they have graduated and found a job, they should stand on their own feet. Once they have acquired wings, they should learn how to fly.

Parents need to instill a sense of autonomy and personal responsibility in their kids. Being firm to our grown-up kids is necessary if we want to be kind to them in the long run. For money which rolls in easily will not stay with them; easy it comes, easy it leaves.

Let them learn how to work hard when they are young. Don’t deprive them of the “pleasure” of this invaluable experience. Even though parents can afford to “pamper” and set their kids on easy street, they should ensure that the latter are merely comfortable, not lazy and complacent.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). We all need to go through the grind. Beyond its tangible fruits, the discipline of hard work changes us from within.

Bill Gates, in an interview, said he will never leave so much with his children that they will never have to work the rest of their lives.

Unless we are born rich or marry into riches, most of us will have to work our way up in life. If we don’t work hard while we’re young, we’ll have to work harder when we’re old, which is difficult if health issues arise. “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young” (Lamentations 3:27).

Hard work is the first step towards financial independence. We are told to observe the industrious ant and learn from ithow it forages for food in summer ahead of winter (Proverbs 6:6-8). If we emulate the sluggard, we have only ourselves to blame if we face poverty in life (Proverbs 6: 9-11).

The apostle Paul worked hard as a tentmaker to support himself, not making use of his rights as a preacher to live on donor support. He taught that the “one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Timothy 5:8).

I used to tell my three kids when they were youngerthey are all working now—that nothing is free in this world. To drive home the point, I told them that we may even have to pay for the air we breathe in. Already in some advanced countries, people pay to inhale fresh air at oxygen bars, which provide a brief respite from the polluted city air.

Though salvation is offered free to all by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), it comes with a price. Jesus had to pay with His dear life as He bore the punishment for man’s sins. The serious believer too has to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). He has to work out his faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:13).

So whether our perspective is earthly or spiritual, as the saying goes, “there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."


How can parents provide for their children, financially speaking?

No doubt those in need deserve help for a season. But they should not continually lean on others for support as this perpetuates a “dependency syndrome”.

Obedience to God results in blessings, both tangible and intangible. These blessings enable the righteous to enjoy a certain measure of comfort. However, there is a fine line separating comfort and complacency.

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