Sunday 10 March 2013


No doubt those in need deserve help for a season. But they should not continually lean on others for support. This is unhealthy as it encourages passivity and perpetuates a “dependency syndrome”.

I have been seeing, of late, many people – with material, emotional, psychological or spiritual needs – who constantly sponge off others even after having received so much help and support from the latter.

No one should be overly dependent on another person for physical sustenance, comfort or spiritual food. We should not perpetuate a “dependency syndrome”.

To put it more bluntly, no one should remain suckers and parasites for life. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule – such as those who are disabled and mentally retarded.

We need to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. The flip side to this teaching by Paul is that recipients of aid must also learn to carry their own burdens (Galatians 6:2, 5).

No doubt those in need deserve help for a season. But they should not continually lean on others for support. This is unhealthy as it encourages passivity and laziness.

In fact, once recipients of aid have recovered and regained strength, they should not only stand on their own feet but, in turn, learn to bear the burdens of others.

I used to tell my three kids when they were younger – they are all working now – that nothing is free in this world. To emphasise why it is important to be self-reliant, I told them we may have to pay for the air we breathe in. In some advanced countries, people pay to inhale fresh air at oxygen bars, which provide a brief respite from the polluted city air.

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 teaches that the “one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). 

Every serious believer 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).

Like newborn babies, we must crave pure spiritual milk so that we will attain spiritual maturity. Yes, develop spiritual hunger; cry out for nourishment. Go into the closet and seek God alone: Pray, worship and praise Him away from public eyes.

It will be a sad day indeed if this commentary is true of our lives: “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).

It is good to receive an occasional “spiritual injection” when a visiting speaker from another church or country comes and stirs up the Spirit in us. Well, that is so refreshing and wonderful.

But how long can that inspiration or empowerment last? One week? One month? Soon we will be going down the slope from the mountain to the valley. When the pressures of work, family and church life build up, we will go back to square one.

So the responsibility of growing spiritually strong falls on us. We ourselves are primarily responsible for our own spiritual development. 

While it is true we would need help from others at some point in our lives, we must also learn to carry our own burdens. The onus to grow spiritually is on us. The buck stops there.





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