Matthew 25:35-40 (NLT) “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'”
Jesus said when we helped those in need, we are actually helping Him. We also read in James 1:27 (KJV) “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.” We also have Dorcas, (Tabitha) as an example in Acts 9:36. She made coats and clothing for widows. So we are supposed to help the poor. Our church has a food pantry and help the needy in many different ways. Personally, my husband and I volunteer with the pantry, donate food and money, and my husband is always giving a hand out and a hand up. So I am making it very clear that I think charity is important and a necessary part of a relationship with God.
It’s important that we do not confuse charity with socialism or redistribution of wealth. Two words we hear quite frequently these days. The definition of socialism is-“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” The definition doesn’t sound so bad. It kind of sounds like everyone gets a say. But simply put, the way it comes out in the implementation is the government (those who govern the community) decides who does what, who gets what, and every other meaningful part of our lives. You don’t personally get to own anything. It’s all community property. The premise is that everyone is equal, no one lacks. Unfortunately it ends up being another form of government control and the people suffer.
Now lets talk about redistribution of wealth. That also sound like a good idea. After all didn’t Robin Hood, the man of legend, that we all love, steal from the rich and give to the poor? It’s one of my favorite stories. Again, the glorified story is nothing like the reality of the actual implementation. Unlike the greedy, oppressive lords and ladies in Robin Hood, redistribution takes from anyone who has, no matter how much or how you got it. It doesn’t matter if you won the lottery, worked hard for forty years, or inherited your money. The powers that be will take it, and they decide who gets it. Mostly it will go to those who cannot or will not support themselves. Let’s be honest now, many people refuse to work at legitimate, honest work. Those people will receive in this system along with everyone else.
Sounds bizarre, I know. But let me assure you, it is already implemented in our government in the United States. All of us who work pay taxes on our earned income. Some of us pay state and federal. Then once a year we report that income to the IRS and we receive either a refund for ‘overpayment’ or we have to pay in due to an ‘shortage’ collected. We all get to claim the same things, rich or poor. Sure those with more money have higher deductions, they make and spend more. (That’s why we need them to keep the economy going!). That all sounds pretty fair. It similar to tithing, we all pay our ten percent. (We won’t compare the use of the funds by the government with the use of the tithe, that’s a whole other subject). In the process, and the outcome isn’t so fair. We all know people who get large refunds every year. I personally know at least five families who get more than double back than what they paid in. They are happy, I am torn. I am thankful that they have what they need, but where did that money come from? From those who didn’t get more back than they paid in, from those who maybe don’t have children to claim, or many deductions. I know that I am paying for part of their refund along with thousands of hard working individuals, not by choice. The only thing free in this life is our salvation!
Whenever the government, or any other organization for that matter, gives something away, that money, or those materials come from someone else. Let’s take the food pantry I mentioned earlier for an example. We help over four hundred families a year. Where does all the food come from? Donations from other families, stores and community groups. All on a voluntary basis. We aren’t forced to give, but we do it out of the goodness of our hearts.
A hand out verses hand up, which is better. We’ve all heard the saying that goes something like, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry.” We need to be wise stewards of everything God has given us.
The bible says, In II Thessalonians 3:6-13, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” One of our early leaders when America was a brand new baby told the men who came over with him, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
God told the Israelites not to pick every piece of fruit or every ear of grain so that the poor could come in an “glean” the fields. I have “gleaned”, that means going in and picking it yourself. Not driving to a storehouse where it is handed to you, clean and bagged. It’s dirty, muscle using, honest, good work! God warned Pharaoh that a famine was coming and used Joseph to save countless lives by storing up the food. Then he gave it all away, right? NO, he sold it to them. First he took their money, then their flocks, then their possessions, then their land, and finally he took the people as slaves. How did those poor souls feel about it? They thanked him, called it a miracle and were happy to be alive.
I am not advocating slavery! But we need to look at some things in our great nation. The governments way of fixing things won’t work. Nothing short of God’s way ever does. We don’t live in a perfect world, but we need to ask God for wisdom in our giving. We should all work hard. Can’t find a job, volunteer! Shovel your neighbors driveway, babysit your sisters children, go read to the little ones at the library, pick up garbage, help at the local nursing home, food bank, or daycare. Do something. We can all give of our time, and while you are waiting for God to bring you a job, or heal you so that you can work, help someone somewhere. Don’t ever allow yourself to feel like a victim. It isn’t ‘us’ against ‘them’. That brings division. We need unity to really help one another. If we did that, we wouldn’t need all these government systems.
Be blessed! Let God provide what you need according to His riches in Glory. Help others. Do the work of the Ministry.
Post Script: After some thought I also want to clarify that “work” isn’t always done outside of the home. Stay at home moms, or dad, work! But if you choose to stay home to care for your family and your home, please don’t allow your house and children to be a mess. Use your time wisely. I know as a mom, who has been able to stay home at times, and has had to work at others, some days you just don’t get it all done. But make sure that you aren’t spending more time on the computer, phone or watching tv than you are at your self-designated “work”.