In the broad scheme of things, can we really say we earn anything? Everything granted us in our lives is a free gift from God.
So, earning or blessing? If you really persist, I'll go as far as to say that we can earn a dollar, but we can't earn wealth.
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8)
…But if you really think about it, how far does that thought take you? To start off, the word 'earn' isn't even used in scripture. The word that comes close is 'merit'. That word is only used twice in all of scripture. Go ahead and look it up.
God gave us everything we have as a gift–free of charge! When it comes down to it, the only one we are in debt to is God. We can't even boast of earning something because He gave us the capacity to do it in the first place. How can we claim to earn anything when we can't even live one second without God's power? We can't. We can only work to obtain it by the very capacity He has given us. Even eternal life, one of the greatest gifts, is indeed a gift–not earned. God truly is the author of our salvation.
Since I'm saying that everything is free and is a gift from God, I'm not saying we can just stay stagnant. We still work, but God gives the increase:
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (Corinthians 3)
Why is this and how is it done?:
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Corinthians 5)
God shows us what we need to do, and we obey. Faith is a gift, always born through exposure of the Spirit. I talk more on this kind of faith here.
What we obtain in the end is through what we work towards. In Babylon, I can actually earn a dollar (granted that God gave me the capacity) for the wages prescribed to me. This world is all about money. You can buy anything here with money. Everything asked of us is for an exact price. What do we work for in Zion? How does Babylon operate? How far does our work carry us?
From Approaching Zion:
…The work ethic, which is being so strenuously advocated in our day…is one of those neat magician's tricks in which all our attention is focused on one hand while the other hand does the manipulating. Implicit in the work ethic are the ideas (1) that because one must work to acquire wealth, work equals wealth, and (2) that that is the whole equation. With these go the corollaries that anyone who has wealth must have earned it by hard work and is, therefore, beyond criticism; that anyone who doesn't have it deserves to suffer—thus penalizing any who do not work for money; and (since you have a right to all you earn) that the only real work is for one's self; and, finally, that any limit set to the amount of wealth an individual may acquire is a satanic device to deprive men of their free agency—thus making mockery of the Council of Heaven. These editorial syllogisms we have heard a thousand times, but you will not find them in the scriptures. Even the cornerstone of virtue, “He that is idle shall not eat the bread … of the laborer” (D&C 42:42), hailed as the franchise of unbridled capitalism, is rather a rebuke to that system which has allowed idlers to live in luxury and laborers in want throughout the whole course of history. The whole emphasis in the holy writ is not on whether one works or not, but what one works for: “The laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish”(2 Nephi 26:31). “The people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, … precious things, which they had obtained by their industry” (Alma 4:6) and which proved their undoing, for all their hard work.
God's system of Zion is not to work for money, but to work for Zion. If we really want wealth in this life, we can have it. I'm convinced that anyone can have it. There are doctrines that support that and ways to achieve it. Ultimately, though, God is in charge. I'll talk more about that in another post.
7 The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them. (1 Samuel 2)
We must be careful to think we merit any blessings because of our righteousness. It may only be because we are more righteous than the wicked. The wicked are granted gifts also, and we should respect what God grants them:
4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9)
Work ethic is so hard pressed nowadays that one may feel guilty for receiving something for free. We have to work hard for what we earn–whether for money, spiritual gift, or even God's forgiveness. We have to feel like we earned it. But it was always meant to be free, as a gift from God, in whom our focus should be in the first place. The gifts are for the benefit of drawing near to God. We just have to do as He asks and love Him with full purpose of heart. If God gives so liberally, how then should we give?
As a side thought, what right does anyone have to take away God's gift from anyone? But God gives to all, good and evil. Don't deny the gifts of God. Believe that you can receive all of God's gifts. Again, doing so by loving Him with all our hearts. We work for Him. What system do we support, Babylon or Zion? Can Zion mix with Babylon? How does God want us to support His laws in the terrestrial world we live in?
When we see the Savior, we will know in whom all power resides. We will confess our unworthiness. It is done through His grace, as a gift accepted in humility, that we are saved.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (3 Nephi 17)