Thursday, November 25, 2010

There are no self-made men

When we are successful most of would like to think [even if only on the sub-conscious level] that it is because of our own initiative, efforts, abilities, cleverness, .... But how much is any success I experience just a gift a God, which should lead to thankfulness, humility, and generosity. I always find the following passage from Deuteronomy 8 rather challenging. It is Moses sermon warning the Israelites before they enter the promised land.
11"Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' 18You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
The passage challenges me a personal level. But to me, it also raises some political questions, particularly to conservatives who strongly advocate everyone "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps" and the wealthy keeping all their money because they "deserve it" and "have earned it." What do others think?

 The painting is The grapes of the Promised Land by Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665).

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