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If records from the world in general and America in particular survive a few more generations, I rather suspect that one item of interest will generate a lot of buzz amongst those future historians:

Why were people paid more to stay home than to go to work?

Mind you, thanks to governmental stupidity, this is not some urban legend I got off of the internet; my daughter lived it.

When COVID-19 first really became a thing somewhere in the spring of 2020, my daughter, and all of her co-workers, were told to go home and that the store would be shuttered for two weeks. Two weeks, though, soon morphed into several months. And during that time my daughter began to receive "COVID unemployment relief funds" that actually dwarfed her regular salary. To put it mildly, she was making a killing just by sitting around at home.

But her mother and I have trained her well (both Dana and I are certified, unrepentant workaholics), and she has very good character. As soon as the store reopened and all of the workers were told "you can come back if you want to," she went back immediately. She went from sitting on the couch to working like a fiend again, and she went from making two and three times her normal salary to making just her small, hourly wage.

To say that this is an oddity would be a true but unfortunate understatement.

We are now in June of 2021. Businesses everywhere have reopened. But at least in all of the areas I have been of late, the normal state of affairs is that those businesses are greatly understaffed. "Help wanted" signs are everywhere, but people are avoiding them like a uniformed cop at a drug deal.

"I'm the only one here for every table in the place," a waitress told Dana and me just last week. "No one else will come to work because they are making way more by not working." The place was filling up, people were waiting to be seated, yet tables were sitting uncleaned with the dishes and leftovers from whoever was there last. Dana and I got up, grabbed the bus cart (you can do this kind of thing in a small town) and cleaned a bunch of the tables for her.

And all of this tells me that America is developing a bit of a character problem.

Work is not a drudgery, or a punishment, or even part of the curse of sin. In fact, God gave man work to do in the Garden of Eden, paradise on Earth, before there ever was sin. Genesis 2:15 says, "And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Man did not fall into sin until chapter three. He was farming and gardening in chapter two. Many years later Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11, instructed, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies."

I will never forget watching a news story some years ago — please forgive me for not remembering the source — about a young man in California, mid-20s, perfectly healthy, who had managed to get on government assistance and spent all of his time surfing and sleeping. The cameras followed him to a grocery store, where he purchased lobster and steak for his meals, all using money that dear Uncle Sam was sending straight from the paychecks of workers to him. I remember thinking then that I was glad most people were not like him.

Nowadays, I am no longer quite sure of that.

I cringed a couple of mornings ago to see a post from a young, healthy man on Facebook, lamenting his plight in life. It seems that he lives in a bug-infested house and has no prospects for a bright future. Where might the problem lie? Perhaps in his own words, "I can't keep a job because no one will pay me enough to make me want to leave the house every day, and even if they do, managers don't seem to like it when I do things my way instead of theirs."

If God ever posted a job opening for "slapping those who need slapping," I would be the first one standing in line for the job. And if I was hired, he would be my first "client."

Proverbs 14:23 says, "In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury [poverty]." There is no such thing as an unimportant, profitless job. You profit from it just by working, let alone by any paycheck you receive. Work is as good for a person as fresh air and water. And if society is now, as it appears, at a point where a great number of people are perfectly fine sitting home when they could be working, then Aesop's ass and mule fable is likely to become reality for all of us; those carrying the load will finally give out, and those who shirked the load will find themselves carrying twice as much whether they feel like it or not.

Go to work. Or, to correct and paraphrase a ubiquitous internet post, "share one of these (a filled-out job application) with an employer, and God will bless you with money!"

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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Pastor Bo Wagner
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