but the wicked have no such concern.
It was a common sight in the days of FDR's presidency (I've been told this, OK? I'm not this old!) for a formerly-well-paid executive to be seen still wearing his business suit, diligently sweeping a city sidewalk, or picking up stray sheets of newsprint in the city park.
FDR's "relief" programs sounded a lot like those of Israel, that we studied yesterday. The Hebrew people were to leave the corners of their fields for the poor to glean and use for food --- notice that they were not told to harvest it and drop it on the poor peoples' doorsteps. You could get help then, and in FDR's America, but you had to work for it.
Somewhere along the line, things have changed. Today there is no distinction made between those who cannot provide for themselves, and those who will not. Personally, I think this is wrong.
Let's look at the work ethic of the Bible. Do you recall what went on in the Garden of Eden? From the very start, mankind (in this case, just Adam and Eve) has had a job. Granted, theirs was a wonderful one --- lovely surroundings and not too much strenuous work to do. Check out Genesis 2:15, if you don't believe me! So work was a good and positive part of life. (God created us to be active and useful, and that is why we are happiest when we are doing what He intended.)
Now, the "fall" when sin came into the lovely world God created, changed all of that. Work became harder, and more strenuous, and just generally less fun.
There are many verses that explain what our work ethic should be -- in fact, we have studied many of them:
Proverbs 14:23 In all work there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.In the New Testament, too, we find guidelines; Paul commends hard work, and even condemns laziness:
Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
"If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their own work quietly and to earn their own living." II Thessalonians 3:10-12Not working because we can't be bothered is not an option:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. II Thessalonians 3:6-9It is key for us as Christians to realize who our "Boss" really is --- we work for our Father!
"Slaves obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service as people-pleasers but with sincerity of heart fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:22-24The slave in that passage was probably someone who did the most menial of jobs......think that what you are doing is just so boring and ordinary that it doesn't count for anything?
Think again! We are to do even those jobs as if we did them for Him!
Here's another important verse about our work ethic:
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. I Thessalonians 4:9-12We can all agree that there are people in our country who are poor, and who are working hard. These diligent folks truly deserve our help, and we should keep our eyes open and assist them as God blesses us. We also have those with us who are unable to provide for themselves, either because of sickness, infirmity, or some handicap that stops them from being able to be employed in any way. These, too, deserve our help, and our compassionate care:
Yes, the more things change, with new programs and new ideas, the more they stay the same....the poor are still with us, and need our help.Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;his righteousness endures forever.”Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:6-15
Perhaps it is up to us, to voluntarily give, not just money, but time? Time to teach a young mother how to sew, so that she can use her skills to earn money for her children's needs. Time to teach an unemployed man how to prepare a resume, and how to job-hunt. There are things that we can do, besides grumble about how we think there are too many people on government aid! And I know that I may get some angry comments today, but I truly believe that these are our responsibilities, as much as we are able to do.
Christian giving is not political. It is an act of love.
The wicked don't care about the poor. But we should.
After we have looked to our own needs, we need to look at any in our churches who have needs. Then look in our world. We can give of our money and our time.
And God will take care of us.