Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas
The Apostle Paul teaches us that God’s love needs to abound in both judgment and knowledge (Philippians 1:9). Love does have parameters which God has defined in His word. In stating this truth, there is still no question that both Testaments of God’s word declares His deep concern for the poor and those who suffer under the weight of poverty.
To deal effectively against the onslaught of lack, however, one must discern its root cause. Biblically, this root is revealed as idolatry. There is a reason why the Christian West has prospered and has experienced a better quality of life beyond pagan nations. We, at least, historically, worshipped the true and living God. He became our great benefactor as a result. But notice, how much our wealth is being drained as we become more idolatrous. Jobs are going overseas and illegal immigration is straining our national infrastructure.
We must also discern Biblically how God expects mankind to deal with the poverty. On the one hand, He declares the poor shall always be amongst us (John 12:8). So, we can never tire of God’s prescriptions on how we handle poverty. First, God’s word teaches us that hunger should work for a man. Hunger is used by God to combat man’s natural inclination to be lazy, slothful, and unproductive. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 states, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should they eat.” Thus, God’s first line of defense against poverty is self-government. Each person is responsible before God to serve, work, and be industrious in some meaningful way in this life. In fact, the Apostle Paul goes one step further and states, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth (Ephesians 4:28).” So not only is it God’s will for a man to work to satisfy his own hunger, he should work to help others in need as well.
Some might argue, what happens if an individual is handicapped or incapacitated? What happens if someone cannot work to provide his own needs? What happens then? In such cases, God introduces His second line of defense to defeat poverty, which is family government. 1 Timothy 5:8 states, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” God expects the family to care for its own. Parents are to lay up for the children and as life progresses and the parents age, the children are to care for the parents. This is God’s social security and welfare system. At one time in America’s history, this brilliant system was known as family. Today, however, it is called Federal Programs.
Lastly, if these two governments fail, the last line of defense is the Church of Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 5:16 states, “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.” Notice the Church is called upon only in the case the family cannot perform its duty. James stated, “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.” God expects His Church to feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick and prisoner, relieved the oppressed, and be a father to the fatherless, especially, when individuals and families fail in their responsibilities.
There is no mention, however, where God calls the state to care for the poor. The symbol of God’s authority ascribed to the state is a sword. It is not a spoon or a welfare trough. The reason for God prohibiting the state to be involved in caring for the poor is man’s natural inclination towards idolatry. The one who meets the need, tends to be the one worshipped.
Plus, we need to weigh the Biblical principle that teaches, he who serves, leads, especially, when it comes to ministering to the poor. The humanist that views the state as the ultimate authority understands this concept a lot better than the Church. It is also this ignorance on the part of the Church that is one of the leading reasons why we have become irrelevant in our nation. The humanists have replaced the role of the Church in our nation with Marxist, socialist, policies that are taxing us to death to care for the poor. Their pagan philosophy is cradle to the grave government programs. This empowers them and is one of the reasons why they are leading our nation further and further away from the God of our fathers and the Biblical principles that blessed us in times past. Ultimately, civil government pursuing this idolatrous course will eventually go broke as they try to play God in the life of its citizens. The bottom line is civil government can never be used as a replacement for Almighty God amongst the citizenry. It is a terrible substitute for God and fathers for that matter. Civil government should never be viewed as Jehovah Jirah, the One who sees the need and provides. Unfortunately, for too many Americans, this is exactly the national view. Too many believe the Savior of mankind resides in Washington DC, rather than being born in Bethlehem.
Add to this dilemma, there are well-meaning Christians who are lacking in a Biblical worldview when it comes to these crucial matters. Thus, they inadvertently prop up this deplorable condition that robs God of His worship and robs from people the incentive of living productive lives. Therefore let us return to God, understand his word, and apply His truth to the burning issues of the day. This is the only way we can effectively minister to the poor, secure God’s worship, and bring our government back to its Biblical and Constitutional jurisdictions.