Wealth and the Christian (II)

It is a refusal to view our assets as a trust from God, that God finds particularly heinous. Jesus spoke about another rich man in a parable, who “stored up riches for himself, and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21). For this, the Son of God indicted him: “you fool!” (v.20)

Does this imply in any way, that the modern socialist notion of redistribution of the communities’ wealth by governments is legitimate? Never. Socialism is a demonic, counterfeit charity, because it requires the involuntary transfer of wealth from one group of people to others. That’s theft.

Judas was critical of Mary’s sacrifice of “…a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard” on Jesus’ behalf (Jn.12:3), claiming that it could have been “given to poor people?” (v.5) But the Bible clearly shows his real motivation: he was a thief, and he used to pilfer the money box (v.6). When socialist governments say, “more should be done for the poor,” they are really saying “more jobs and credit for governments and bureaucrats,” because that is where so much of the socialist’s tax money ultimately finishes up.

Let me give you an example. A month ago the Federal government decided to set up a trial scheme for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The cost would be a $1 billion. The proportion going to the bureaucrats administering the scheme? $350 million, or 35%.

Judas’ claim that the money could have been “given to poor people,” was one of the most hypocritical statements in all of human history, but socialists clearly don’t want to leave him alone in his hypocrisy.

Biblical charity is always an individual, a family or a church responsibility. The Bible never legitimises charity being undertaken by government. This is one of the major flaws of our modern western welfare society, which now threatens to bring us down through national bankruptcies. “…even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10).

In many places in His Old Testament law, God made it clear to His people who should be the recipients of their welfare: the alien, the orphan and the widow. In Deuteronomy 24:19, He said

When you reap your harvest in your  field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

In the New Testament, Paul continued this theme. When writing to Timothy about church government, he explained which widows were to be “put on the list” for church welfare in I Timothy 5:9-16.

This is what God commanded Jeremiah to say to Shallum (or Jehoahaz), Josiah’s son: “‘…did not your father eat and drink and do righteousness and justice? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is this not what it means to know Me?’ Declares the Lord. ‘But your eyes and your heart are intent only on your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion’ ” (Jer.22:15a-17).

We may think that Sodom was judged for its homosexuality, but there was more to it than that. Later on, God said that “…this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it” (Ezek.16:49-50).

Clearly, there is a scriptural parallel between the judgment on Sodom, and the rich man in who ignored Lazarus’ plight. The apostle John continues this: “…whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (I Jn. 3:17)

Abraham, Job and Boaz were clearly rich men (Gen.13:2; 24:1; Job 1:3; Ruth 2:1), but they did not view their riches (in various forms such as gold, silver, land, livestock, along with business and social relationships) as assets entirely for themselves, but as stewards of God, and for the service of others (see Gen.14:12-16; Job 29; 31; Ruth 2-4). In fact, one of the descriptions of the righteous man in Psalm 112, is that “he has freely given to the poor…” (v.9).

The serious condemnations of the rich that James makes (see James 5:1-6), are not of rich people in general. James is actually very specific. These rich he said, had deprived their labourers of their wages (v.4), they had led “…a life of wanton pleasure…” (v.5), and they had “condemned and put to death the righteous man…” (v.6).

The Bible contrasts these people with Cornelius, who was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. When he was visited by an angel, the angel said that “your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:2, 4).

Conclusion:                                                                                                                          

Wealth is a great blessing, to be used responsibly. If we are blessed financially, we should rejoice, and if we are not, we should rejoice. And if we view all we have as something which is ours temporarily, held in trust for God to be used in a God-honouring way, we will do ourselves a favour, and honour the God Who gave those things to us.

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