Before we begin our foray into this topic, let’s examine how Webster’s Dictionary defines “earn”:
- To receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered; to bring in by way of return;
- To come to be duly worthy of or entitled or suited to—i.e. ‘she earned a promotion’;
- To make worthy of or obtain for—i.e. ‘the suggestion earned him a promotion.
Seems pretty cut and dried, doesn’t it? But what does it really take to “earn” something? Obviously it takes an expenditure of time and/or effort. Often an outlay of money is involved, as in investing in more education in order to “earn” a higher income in future years. According to the dictionary definitions above, there are also non-monetary ways of “earning” something, such as earning another person’s trust. This type of “earning” requires a degree of character that is sometimes more difficult to attain, and can be more challenging to accomplish.
Earning another person’s respect is equally difficult in some cases, since respect is often achieved over long periods of time and sometimes in the light of interpersonal relationships. Obviously it is difficult to be a “phony” and earn the respect of others. In our current state of affairs in our troubled country, there are other things that can be “earned”, such as one group of people “earning” the contempt of another group, which is the case today when modern conservatives and/or Christians and those who determine to abide by our embattled U.S. Constitution are held in contempt by modern liberals or members of the despicable Klan of New Bolsheviks (formerly referred to as Democrats) and their related fellow travellers, and are excoriated as “extremists, deplorables, “homophobes”, “Islamophobes”, “ignorant racists”, “bumpkins”, and “religious fanatics”.
What about our historic past? What did our ancestors “earn” as they
struggled over the centuries to establish a Christian civilization out of the then existing darkness of superstition, barbarism, and tyranny? History has amply recorded that many of the rich and powerful in the Roman empire focused their venom upon our ancestral Christian brothers and sisters, who “earned” the special enmity of many Roman Emperors who would not tolerate the worship of any “god” except for themselves. That they worshipped only the true God of Creation “earned” an unknown but surely a vast number of the early Christians a cruel death from the Roman government, as they became galley slaves for the Roman navy, food for the lions in the coliseum, or human torches to light up the night at Nero’s parties and wild orgies. Even in this supposed “enlightened age” in which we live, many of our fellow Christians in many countries over this planet have “earned” the hatred of the followers of the evil one, and are suffering for their faith just as surely as did our brethren near the dawn of Christianity.
Throughout the dark ages our ancestors, the progenitors of our unique western civilization, and many of them Christians, “earned” the thanks of the educated people of today by preserving a precious few written records of their (and our) past, in order for us to enjoy and learn from those same historical records in our day---plays, poetry, science, history--written mostly by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans---that otherwise would have been lost permanently, just as so much ancient knowledge was tragically lost in the senseless final destruction of the great library in Alexandria, Egypt in 272 A.D.
The English Barons “earned” the hostility of King John, as they forced the king to sign the Magna Charta in 1215, thus beginning the long and painful process of transferring political power away from despotic kings (who believed incorrectly that they ruled by “Divine Right”) to those who were the ruled. We all must remember that despots throughout the ages never relinquish their political power voluntarily. English King Charles 1 threatened the liberty of Englishmen by dissolving their lawful Parliament, which “earned” the king the enmity of Oliver Cromwell and many other anti-monarchists during the English Civil War, and which soon thereafter “earned” King Charles a date with the chopping block in January, 1648.
Our colonial ancestors “earned” the wrath of King George 111 by daring to declare themselves “free and independent states”. The king disagreed with our patriot ancestors and sent his powerful military to convince those rebellious colonists of the error of their ways, thereby “earning” the king a hornets’ nest of rebellion and, eventually, the loss of his American colonies. Our Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors “earned” our eternal gratitude by daring to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Christian Church, not the king, and putting their lives on the line to establish a Christian-oriented nation in the North American wilderness. In our own time, the freedom seekers of Eastern Europe “earned” our admiration and respect as they finally tired of living under repressive socialist/communist tyranny---tired, in the words of T.S. Eliot, of “the backward half-look over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.”
Our Founding Generation reasoned that if men are “endowed by their Creator” with certain inalienable rights, it logically followed that God is sovereign, NOT a man-made government; therefore NO government had any authority to interfere with these rights, i.e. self-government, self-defense, the right to freedom, and the right to property in order to make that freedom meaningful. What our Declaration of Independence only suggested in 1776 was made specific in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights in 1792, which placed restrictions not upon the American people but upon the Federal government. To the extent that we are diluting the concepts of “divided powers” and “checks and balances” established by our Constitution, and are increasingly relinquishing “the powers reserved to the people or to the States” to the Executive and/or Judicial branches of our government, we are “earning” the unbridled growth of the Federal government, which has long sought to become our “master” rather than our “servant”, and are “earning” the contempt and derision of generations of our countrymen yet unborn, who may never know even some remnants of the Constitutional liberty that we Americans have known since 1787.
We who live today are the recipients of all that has been “EARNED” by our ancestors. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden they “earned” His banishment from that beautiful earthly paradise and from eternal life, and the future deaths of all mankind. By becoming Christians, we “earned” the right to be called “the Sons of God” because of what our Savior did for us on that Cross. Back in 1998, that great film, Saving Private Ryan, was released. Toward the end of that violent but thought-provoking film, there is a scene that ably demonstrates what “earning” is all about. A few days after enduring the hell of the landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944, the dying Captain Miller whispered something to Private Ryan at the conclusion of a violent battle. He said: “EARN THIS!” Decades later, an elderly Ryan, standing beside the Normandy grave of Captain Miller with his family, emotionally assured his dead comrade that he had done his best to “earn” the sacrifices made for him by his brothers-in-arms, who had sacrificed their “present” for his “future”. In my opinion that is one of the most emotional, and powerful, scenes ever put on film and it brought tears to my eyes when I first watched it.
I trust that when each American—each Christian—each Patriot—finally comes to the end of his/her earthly road, he/she will be able to declare the same to posterity---and certify that we have done our best to “EARN” and preserve the Christian heritage and the accomplishments of Western Civilization that were purchased for us by our ancestors at such a great price. The centuries-long struggle of mankind to leave behind the darkness of tyranny and repression and pray and struggle and fight its way into the light of liberty has seen its share of bloodshed here in this land we call America. It is not inconceivable that Americans will relatively soon experience more bloodshed as the barbarians of collectivism attempt to destroy the Constitutional Republic of our Founders by violence and by convincing “good people” to surrender to the siren song of Marxist socialism. How sad to contemplate that this might be the last generation to live in some degree of freedom---that we may be on the edge of a precipice that drops once-free people into, as President Reagan cautioned, “a thousand years of darkness”. My fellow Christians and/or Patriots, we can’t let that happen, for if we do, our descendants will curse our memories for each one of those thousand years!