cycling with a cigarette

6 10 2013

“For hard-working people”. Like a Daily Mail headline, it has to be read in conjunction with the whole story. The story: hard-working people succeed. They ‘get on’. Not-hard-working people are lazy. They claim benefits.  One Big Society. Two categories. Set them against each other. Simples.


Forgetting of course that the majority of people on benefits are IN WORK (or retired/mums/ill/disabled/in education). It would be far better economics to force wealthy employees to pay a living wage to hard-working people. Then the state wouldn’t have to top up the wages so that these hard-working people can afford to live. It’s backwards economics, like cycling with a cigarette and blaming the butt for burning down too quickly. This is anti-business though, which of course is a terrible thing. It’s ok to be anti young people. Anti poor people. Anti people-who-need-a-safety-net.


Jesus wasn’t a supporter of hard work. Gasp. Neither is he against it. But he was a supporter of generosity. He told a story about a workplace where people who had worked hard all day, even through their lunch break, got paid the same as someone who turned up late and did an hour. This wasn’t an argument for communism, or about the minimum wage; but it was an argument for grace. You might have heard of it.

[grace] grace cubes

Grace says we do not assume people on benefits are lazy. We do not start there.  Grace says that we do not look at struggling long-term unemployed families only to find a high horse and sit on it. Oh, sometimes we want to. Sometimes it feels good to. Sometimes it’s so easy to.


Grace knows that when you are generous, you will be taken advantage of. If you refuse to be taken advantage of then you cannot be generous. God is generous. We take advantage of his grace all the time. Gasp. He is generous. 


Attitudes matter. Words matter. The way we talk about people matters. Do we speak with hearts full of grace, of compassion; or do we speak with hearts that bring judgement and division. What concerns me deeply about the Tory rhetoric – and it has not been seriously and believably challenged by Labour or Lib Dems – is the gracelessness with which the poor are spoken of.


Jesus does not want hard-working people. Gasp. He wants grace-working people. People who speak and move and act with grace, in grace, because of grace. Rich, poor, whoever. Showing grace does not show weakness but strength. May God give the Government – and us – strength to defend the poor and the vulnerable, not the weakness to turn on them.

Society needs grace-working people, not hard-working people. There’s a thought. 



3 responses

7 10 2013
neil stewart

nice one vicar

7 10 2013

Well done Kevin, but there is one problem. Grace, like love and peace and empathy is right brain. Our ‘post modern’ society doesn’t do right brain it only does left brain logic where power and money are supremen and you only do something for a payback.

Of course we used to have grace in our society, thats why we founded the NHS and had a caring respectful society and stood up for the underdog and what we thought was right. But not now, now its every man and woman for themself.

Please God change us. Cnange our society and our world. And yes, you can stary with me, but please don’t stop there. Please!

12 10 2013

my son has now been unemployed for well over a year, having been laid off when the government lab for which he worked was closed to save money.
Your blog chimes with his (and our) situation.
And with the message of

What are you thinking?

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