Welfare: Caring for the Needy

The Prerequisites

  • 1 Timothy 5:3-4 Show respect to widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, first let them learn to do their religious duty to their own family and thus repay some of the debt they owe their forebears, for this is what is acceptable in the sight of God.
  • 1 Timothy 5:5-7 Now the widow who is really in need, the one who has been left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in petitions and prayers night and day. But the one who is self-indulgent is already dead, even though she lives. And instruct them about this, so that they will not be open to blame.
  • 1 Timothy 5:8 Moreover, anyone who does not provide for his own people, especially for his family, has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • 1 Timothy 5:9-10 Let a widow be enrolled on the list of widows only if she is more than sixty years old, was faithful to her husband, and is known for her good deeds — as one who has reared her children well, showed hospitality, washed the feet of God’s people, helped those in trouble, and engaged in all kinds of good work.
  • 1 Timothy 5:11-15 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when they begin to feel natural passions that alienate them from the Messiah, they want to get married. This brings them under condemnation for having set aside the trust they had at first. Besides that, they learn to be idle, going around from house to house; and not only idle, but gossips and busybodies, saying things they shouldn’t. Therefore, I would rather the young widows get married, have children and take charge of their homes, so as to give the opposition no occasion for slandering us. For already some have turned astray to follow the Adversary.
  • 1 Timothy 5:16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, she should provide relief for them — the congregation shouldn’t be burdened, so that it may help the widows who are really in need.

This passage is concerning widows. However, generalizations can be made before enrolling one for assistance. There are prerequisites to be met. (1) is the person truly needy, meaning he cannot help himself? (2) Has the person lead an upright lifestyle? (3) Has the person no family that will help? (4) Does the person refrain from living an indulgent, frivolous, wasteful lifestyle?

In the most politically incorrect fashion, the Apostle warns what happens when individuals are enrolled, when they should not be: they become idle busybodies. Paul understands public policy better than most, as this cause and effect mechanism is exactly what we find with welfare. Welfare policies breed idle busybodies.

The government is wholey incapable of monitoring and implementing such a policy. It has no way of being able to answer the four questions above. Only personal friends and family are. But when government attempts to, it must collect information. But this then is an unnecessary intrusion into our lives. This is the reason government has not been given the commission. Government is simply not the right tool for the job. Forcing taxpayers at the point of a gun through "taxation" to fund busybodies is a poor practice indeed.

The goal of welfare policies is to distribute the burden on those who have done no wrong. They are in effect being punished for not being unsuccessful. Paul has argued that the next of kin should step up to the plate, so that the congregation (society) is not burdened. Rewarding "unsuccess" and punishing success has the outcome of encouraging failure over achievement.

Working and Eating

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and the perseverance which the Messiah gives.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9 Now, in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah we command you, brothers, to stay away from any brother who is leading a life of idleness, a life not in keeping with the tradition you received from us. For you yourselves know how you must imitate us, that we were not idle when we were among you. We did not accept anyone's food without paying; on the contrary, we labored and toiled, day and night, working so as not to be a burden to any of you. It was not that we hadn't the right to be supported, but so that we could make ourselves an example to imitate.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: if someone won't work, he shouldn't eat! We hear that some of you are leading a life of idleness — not busy working, just busybodies! We command such people — and in union with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah we urge them — to settle down, get to work, and earn their own living. And you brothers who are doing what is good, don't slack off!
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 Furthermore, if anyone does not obey what we are saying in this letter, take note of him and have nothing to do with him, so that he will be ashamed. But don't consider him an enemy; on the contrary, confront him as a brother and try to help him change.

By the very nature of things, those who don't work, but do eat, are eating the fruits of another's effort. It works like this: Mr. Sloth must beg his neighbor Mr. Discipline, indeed daily, for food, otherwise he starves. Mr. Discipline will at some point feel abused, and rightfully so, and stop feeding Mr. Sloth. So Mr. Sloth dies of hunger, or more accurately, laziness, or at least one would hope.

Mr. Sloth would like to eat, and has decided not to obtain it honestly by working, so he turns to crime. He breaks into Mr. Discipline's house, while he is away laboring for his family, and takes what he wants plus then some for good measure. Mr. Discipline becomes tired of this treachery very quickly, and calls the police to apprehend the thief. Problem solved, or so it seems.

But Mr. Sloth has a friend who works as a politician. The politician promises "justice" of the "economic" kind. The politician says that he "feels your pain", Mr. Discipline has "too much", and that should we "spread the wealth", all would have enough. The legislative bill specifies that government will break into Mr. Discipline's house, confiscate (another term for tax) what it gives to Mr. Sloth, plus then some for its own consumption. Mr. Discipline, who resists, is labeled a "hater", "wealthy pig" and "evil capitalist", and probably works for "big oil" making "huge windfall profits".

Neighbor robbing neighbor on a large scale requires government. The issue is theft. Theft is wrong. Taxing someone on account of him having something is wrong. The long term social consequence of this type of neighbor looting policy is very destructive. If government robs Peter to pay Paul, the Peters begin to legally change their name to Paul. Once a threshold is reached, the economy simply breaks down. The flow of money to an activity increases that activity. If money flows toward housing, more housing will occur. If money flows toward slothfulness, more slothfulness will occur. Subsidizing creates more of what it is subsidizing. It is a rather straight forward law of economics.

"If someone won't work, he shouldn't eat!" is a lightning rod of a rule - another highly politically incorrect statement found in scripture. Is it too much to ask that those who are able to work, do so?

Supposedly, those who are against welfare policies, are "hateful". But notice in the fifth verse the phrase "love and perseverance". Love and perseverance demands that we go to work, not sit around and have others wait on us. What would be "hateful" is demanding that others to pull the slothful's weight.

The proper response to those who refuse to lead productive lives is found in verse 14. Ostracizing him my persuade him to reconsider his position of unilaterally becoming a burden to his neighbor.

Judas and the Money Bag

John 12:3-4 Miryam took a whole pint of pure oil of spikenard, which is very expensive, poured it on Yeshua’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair, so that the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of the talmidim, Y’hudah from K’riot, the one who was about to betray him, said,

John 12:5-6 “This perfume is worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” Now he said this not out of concern for the poor, but because he was a thief — he was in charge of the common purse and used to steal from it.

Although Judas was not a politician, he certainly argued like one. Thus, the small story, with a large teaching, has been incorporated into the study of government. The message speaks for itself.

Those who say, "I want to hold the money bag for the poor", or other noble causes, are for the most part only interested in skimming some for himself. The speeches are sprinkled with a comparison between the luxury items enjoyed by the rich and the plight of the unfortunate, wrapped in the subtle question, "Is it fair?". "Why don't we take a little from the affluent to ease the pain of the lowly?, They don't need it all anyway." Watery eyes magnify the impact. "Yes indeed, I feel your pain."

So during voting season, when the runners are waxing eloquently about how they love the poor, needy, sick and elderly, do not believe them. Let him prove he loves them - with his own money. It is government's specialty to "love the needy", but with other people's money. Demand that the politician divulge information as to how much money he has personally donated to those he cares about - money he has earned through his own hard work at the mill. This will easily prove the truth of the matter. But until such a time, remember the story of Judas and the money bag, and do not take the heart felt care messages for face value.

The Source of Mass Poverty

Proverbs 13:23 The fields of the poor may yield much food, but some are swept away because of injustice.

Instead of robbing neighbors to help the poor, a better tact would be to institute justice.


Author: Scott Wallace Brians
Date: October 2005
Web Site: www.his-kingdom.net
Copyright: All Rights Reserved
Bible Text: Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern