The Bible and Welfare (12)

We are entering into a period of uncharted waters economically and politically. The promises of national governments around the world are going to crash like waves against cliffs along the shoreline. This is going to create tremendous opportunities for education in certain segments of the population. I think churches are going to move to the right. Liberal churches are going to continue to disappear, and evangelical churches are going to grow. When times are tough, people look for ports in the storm. This is going to increase responsibilities on church diaconates.[1]

There aren’t many of us who look forward to a crisis. I most certainly don’t. But whether we look forward to one or not, we can be assured that a crisis of some kind will inevitably come.

If a crisis is going to come of an economic and social kind, it would be best of all if individuals, families and churches began to prepare for this. This means many things. It means we:

  1. a) Think about the security of our employment, and taking whatever steps we can to secure this.
  2. b) Consider how we could and should be making ourselves available to others in future, who may be in great need.
  3. c) Consider how we can work together with others in our church to team up for projects that demand a number of willing workers, over the long-term.
  4. d) It means we consider how we could assist our own people and others financially, through the use of the tithe.

Effort in assisting others requires a principled approach, time and planning. It also requires the coordination of effort or teamwork, so that many can contribute, ensuring that one person or family is not over-loaded.

And the Bible speaks of this:

A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory (Prov.24:5-6).

For much of our past, preachers have stressed our individual responsibilities before God. This is good, but this is not enough.

Why? Because God is a God of individuals, families, churches and nations, and the Bible tells us that “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). It also warns us that “…the church must not be burdened” (I Tim.5:16). So Christian responsibilities must be accepted, but they must also be clearly defined, and shared.

This understanding of the condition of the poor and their care, is emphasised in scripture. Consider these three verses from Proverbs 28:

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked though he be rich (v.6).

Then,

He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor (v.8).

And,

The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding sees through him (v.11).

It is not wrong to be poor, and to show concern for the poor and to act responsibly on that concern, is right. Does this mean that all poor people should be assisted? No, it does not. We must accept scriptural guidelines, so that personal, family and church resources are not wasted on people who don’t deserve it, and shouldn’t receive it. The sloths want something for nothing, forever.

The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, but He will reject the craving of the wicked (Prov.10:3).

Every nation has its own opportunities for ministering to the poor, and I don’t think it is wise, or a good use of our time and the available resources, to feel as though we have to be doing everything alone. Australia has a private institution called Foodbank, which manages food stuffs and other household necessities that it gathers from retailers, food producers, and others, into warehouses. These are available for charitable institutions at low or no cost.

We don’t have to re-invent the wheel, and as good stewards of our resources, we have to consider how to get the most bang for our buck. Thus individuals, families and churches should be willing to consider accessing social institutions like Foodbank for ministering to their own needy people, along with people outside the church.

This can represent an excellent opportunity and outlet for Biblical charity. It’s time to get  ready.

 

[1] Gary North (www.garynorth.com), “Unemployment and the Millennials in the Next Recession,” 21/2/2018.

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