You Have Heard It Said…

You have heard it said:

Feed a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.

But I tell you:

Feed a man a fish, and you’ll get him to stay.

Teach a man to fish, and he will go away.



Seriously.  Think about it.



  1. LoiterLarry · June 3, 2016

    Are you saying that underneath the façade of our care for the poor we really just want them to go away? Or are you promoting that idea?


  2. Agent X · June 3, 2016

    Yes… to the first question, Larry.

    Thanx for asking.

    Yeah. It’s a subversive quip, I reckon. A way of subverting a catchy phrase in the market place of ideas that passes for wisdom, but really supports much damage. Like when Jesus says, Give to Caesar what is Caesar. N.T. Wright teaches us that the hardline Jews of the day already had a handy dandy saying which went something like: Pay it back to the Romans! It meant pay it back in spades! I meant we don’t want their filth in our midst. Kinda a similar I thought to paying back one offence with another – I will get you back – we might say.

    Of course that is a different subject as far as content goes, but the dynamic is the same.

    When we trot out that feed-a-man-a-fish/teach-a-man-to-fish catch phrase, it is important to look at it closely.

    First off, it is not in the Bible. We sometimes treat it like it is gospel truth. Some people who don’t actually bother to read their Bibles may actually think that is where it comes from. Like the phrase Cleanliness is next to godliness… It is not actually biblical at all.

    Not only is the phrase not found in the Bible, it also is not supported by the Bible. As I have pointed out elsewhere, on this blog even, Jesus fed 5,000 a fish for a day and made no mention that they should learn to fish for life. He took pity on people who were hungry and fed them – even told his disciples “You feed them”. Oh sure, he told his disciples to become fishers of men, but that was a completely different context and meaning. And by the time we get to Acts 2, the whole church is sharing everything in common, becoming interdependent upon one another.

    When we talk about the poor today, in nearly every relief effort I know of, there is an underlying ideal that we will alleviate poverty in some wise way that eventually makes the poor independent of us. We want them to go away – in the end. We reach for language in psychology and recovery circles and say we do not want to “ENABLE” the poor to continue in poor choices, but that too is nowhere found in the Bible.

    On the contrary, the Bible’s ideal paints a picture of a flock of sheep being tended by the shepherd(s) – not least the Good Shepherd! There is absolutely no hint of an ideal that we should work ourselves out of that job! Sheep are not independent animals to metaphorically visualize ourselves as. No. That would be wolves etc… Lone Wolf is not welcome in the flock and the shepherd will drive both him and the ideal of him out of the sheep fold!

    So, yes. I am calling the underlying philosophy of our care for the poor to account. Think about it. Who are you really serving here? The Matthew 25 Jesus is the very poor we serve. The Revelation 3:20 Jesus is knocking at our door! If we open up, he will come in and eat with us! Do you really want him to go away? And if so, perhaps you should come clean and admit it to yourself and the world and the poor you say you want to serve.


    Think about it.

    Thanx for asking.


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