I think it’s interesting to see how God Himself provided that the poor be cared for.
If you go, for instance, to the OT book of Ruth, you find a wealthy man there named Boaz who had a lot of land, crops, and employees. The Law of God provided that when a field was harvested they were not to pick it clean. They were to leave some good sheaves of grain and the corners of the fields for the poor. They were not required to reap it for them, nor deliver it to them, nor were they required to give them a bigger percentage than that. The poor knew that God had provided that they had the right to glean the leftovers at the end of the day. They had to “wait their turn” and go do it themselves though. In the NT we hear the apostle Paul directing the young church, that if there were any among them who would not work they would not eat.

feed the pig

feed the pig

The Law also extracted a 10% tax rate–no more, no less. Some of that was earmarked for the poor. That didn’t mean, however, that that was all God hoped His people would do and give. He wants us to have big hearts for Him, expressed to others. That has always remained “free will” in God’s directives–not to be coerced at the end of a weapon wielded by any government or individual. Not to be demanded by some tyrannical arm of government, (even if those behind it were a majority of voters who “meant well.”) Boaz freely favored the young woman Ruth. It was his prerogative as the one who was able to freely give.

2 Corinthians 9:7“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The “good” man Boaz was wealthy. Abraham and Solomon were fabulously wealthy. So was Joseph and David and many other “righteous men”. Yet there were still poor among them. They were free to dispose of their wealth as they saw fit to whomever they saw fit. Only God was and is their judge.

Jesus had much to say to us about our personal, individual, responsibility before Him to “help the poor!” So people of all persuasions talk about this wholesome enterprise. We seem to disagree about how best to do it—what best helps people? None of us, however,  are absolved PERSONALLY by depending on somebody else to do it.

And government is almost always a poor steward of what they extract from us. Fact is, our Founders knew this. If you give government an inch, it will take a mile. It has to be carefully restrained. We act as though only corporations are corrupt, and corruptible, and in need of restraint—and seem to think that government is and always will be benign–no matter how much power and personal responsibility we abrogate and relinquish to it.

Our brilliant Constitution and consequent system of government has permitted us the privilege of seeking to secure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Equality was not on that list. Karl Marx was not correct. And though God loves all people regardless of anything, He too did not call for absolute equality and never provided for it. In fact, in the parables of Jesus some servants were given 10 times what other servants were given (based on discharge of their responsibilities)! Then, based on how they dealt what what was entrusted to them, the Master sometimes came back and even took the little bit they had and gave it to the one who had the most! (e.g. Matt. 25:28) He shelled out His gifts and favors as He saw fit.

In the early church there was much love and care being expressed for those in need. We’re told that the wealthier would, from time to time, sell some of their property and give it for distribution to the poor.
Ananias and his wife Sapphira had sold a piece of their property. They brought some of the money from the sale of the property but lied about it and said it was ALL the money. God was not happy with them (to say the least) because of their lie. But it’s interesting to see what Peter says to them before they are dealt with by God:

Acts 5:4a “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?”

It was not demanded. It was not coerced. The rest of the believers were not at liberty to require it be given.

I would LOVE to see some leader (from any party) actually propose a viable plan whereby people could get self-respect and retain dignity and work to earn all assistance given. It would be good for them, and good for all of us.

Yes, we are very definitely responsible to help the poor. Let each one see to it. Sometimes people just can’t help themselves. Let us deal responsibly with what we have –be it great or small. There’s so much of the loving heart of God expressed in this. God wants us to give even for our own sakes—so that money and greed will not own us! He told a certain rich young ruler to sell EVERYTHING and give it to the poor. Though the young man went away sad, I sometimes wonder if he thought better of it and did exactly what Jesus said,  some time later? He was, however, free to make that decision. Palestine in the first century was “dirt poor.” There was no social welfare system. If God’s people didn’t help the poor, who would? Perhaps we have government taking over the role that the Church did not stay faithful to discharge? Perhaps too, we have created “a monster” heretofore unknown in human history, whereby such a significant percentage of the able-bodied population lives on the means provided by others, and often are able to have a smart phone, cable TV, and a late-model automobile.

Yet it’s interesting to note in the end, that not even God will help someone who demands it or who will not give an effort to help themselves.

See what Dave Ramsay has said that touches on this issue and the angst and anger being expressed by OWS

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