by Pastor Art Kohl
2002

The Bible Speaks On Welfare

Since 1964 the United States Governments (Federal and State) have transferred over five trillion dollars from the middle class and the rich to the poor. Are the poor better off today or have they become more enslaved and dependent on government?

How much is five trillion dollars? A billion dollars is one thousand million dollars. A trillion dollars is one thousand billion dollars, thus five trillion dollars is five thousand billion dollars. That amount is inconceivable to the human mind. That is how much government has taken from the middle and rich class and transferred it to the poor. This money did not cost the poor anything. They did not have to earn it. It was given them.

This scenario described is why so many are up in arms about the subject of welfare. There are still over three million Americans on the welfare rolls. Some are being helped by it and learning to stand on their own feet someday. This is the goal. Others have become enslaved by it and are dependent on it. Some are second, third and even fourth generation dependents on welfare. There are special cases where some are worthy of help and compassion such as the disabled veteran, other disabled, orphans, handicapped, retarded and other extraordinary cases. These can be helped when there is no one else to help them.

The average middle class worker today works till the middle of May each year for the government. Everything they earn from January till about the middle of May is taxed and taken by the government in some form. These hard working people are feeling slighted that some of their money is given to some poor people who have not earned it and do not deserve it. Needless to say, welfare is a very volatile subject and our goal again is to find out what the Bible says.

1. No work, no eat.

II Thessalonians 3:6-12, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”

This is the simplest answer in the Bible concerning the subject.

2. A man who does not take care of his own is despicable.

I Timothy 5:8, “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.”

It is about the worst indictment a man could receive to be called “worse than an infidel.” This is not the governments job, but a man’s job to take care of his own. Even deadbeat dads should be hunted down and forced to care for their own as long as they live. Jesse Ventura, Governor of Minnesota said, “It’s not the governments job to make up for your mistakes.”

3. Widows are to be cared for by their family, not government or church.

I Timothy 5:3-10,16 “Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 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. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 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.” Leviticus 22:13, “But if the priest’s daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father’s house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father’s meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.”

There is such a widow that is worthy of Church support. She is called a “widow indeed” or “desolate” in this text. As you note the requirements, she is a rare case:

• Desolate - I Timothy 5:5 (No living husband, children, nephews etc.).
• Over 60 years old - I Timothy 5:9.
• Never been divorced - I Timothy 5:9.
• Well reported of having done good works for others - I Timothy 5:10.
• Brought up her children - I Timothy 5:10.
• Lodged strangers - I Timothy 5:10.
• Washed feet, humbly served others - I Timothy 5:10.
• Relieved the afflicted - I Timothy 5:10.
• Followed every good work - I Timothy 5:10.

These are certainly extraordinary conditions before such a widow can receive welfare from the church (I Timothy 5:16).

4. The extended family is to care for all family members.

I Timothy 5:4, “But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.”

Not only should children care for their parents, but nephews should care for their aunts and uncles! We are far from this today. We do not even think like this today. Yet this is Bible.

The word “requite” means “pay back.” If parents have taken care of their children for twenty years at the beginning of their lives, then children should be willing to take care of their parents for twenty years at the end of their lives. The word “piety” means “respect” or “support.” This is God’s social security plan.

5. Government should strengthen the hand of the poor and needy, not weaken it.

Ezekiel 16:49-50, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

One of the reasons God destroyed the four cities on the plain was that they did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

Government should try to strengthen the poor, not make them weaker. If the government is going to give things away, instead of giving fish, they should give a fishing pole. Then the poor would have the means to go out and catch their own fish. If government, church or individuals help the poor it should only be in such a way to get them started in helping themselves.

This principle is taught in the law of God:

Leviticus 19:9-10, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.”

Leviticus 23:22, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”

(The widow Ruth practiced this in Ruth 2:1-3.)

By giving away free handouts (the fancy word today is “entitlements”) the poor are weakened. They do not learn the value and self satisfaction of industriousness. The poor should not be weakened but strengthened. People should depend on themselves not on the government.

6. Even in great distress the poor paid what they could for help from government.

Genesis 41:53-57, “And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.”

No handouts here. The poor paid for what they could from the government. Remember, this was all by the directive of God through Joseph who had been sold into Egypt as a slave. He grew and by the blessing of God became second to the leader, Pharaoh, in all the land. Even in great distress the government should avoid the practice of free handouts. Some state governors are replacing welfare with workfare.

7. Government should judge the poor.

Psalms 72:2,4, “He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.”

Proverbs 31:9, “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Isaiah 11:4, “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

Some of the poor need a helping hand untill they get on their own feet. This should only be in times of great distress and for as short of duration as possible. Other poor need a kick in the pants. The government should make this righteous judgment. The church should make this righteous judgment. Individuals should make this righteous judgment. Those who are worthy should be helped. Those not worthy should not be helped.

Jesus said in John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Righteous judgment of the poor would be included.

Helping the poor is certainly part of the Christian faith. Giving to the poor that be worthy is taught throughout Scripture. Revival in this teaching and practice in the Christian church could relieve all government welfare programs.

Let us illustrate: There are 260 million Americans. Forty percent of them attend some sort of a “Christian” church each Sunday. That is 104 million. These attend 1.5 million churches across America. There are 3 million recipients of welfare in America right now. If each church helped two families get on their feet if possible, welfare could be eliminated. Remember, there was a day when our country did not have welfare. Families and Christians helped each other. Now we have relied on the government and socialism is creeping in. Welfare seems to be the card some in government are playing to promote their socialist agenda.

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