Outsourced Charity

Posted by Larry Miller on August 21, 2012 under How | Be the First to Comment

Recently I received an angry response to one of my postings where I took the government to task for attempting to be the supplier of everything we need. This person said that he, too, was a Christian and that I was like so many others on the “religious right” who were more interested in politics than in meeting the needs of the poor in our nation. This person said that, like me, he was opposed to abortion and homosexual marriage, but that supplying the needy was of greater importance to him.

This got me to thinking. My degree is from a fairly liberal university near Philadelphia where the likes of Tony Campolo and Ron Sider were elevated for the students to see and emulate. I even had a theology prof who did not believe in hell or the wrath of God. All these arguments I had heard before, but the number of people who profess to be Christians who follow the ways of, what is essentially, an anti-Christian government astounds me. It is for these people that I write this article.

We are told that God’s Word talks far more about helping the poor than the social issues that fight for every day. This is true. I cannot argue about the importance of reaching out and helping the less fortunate. James 1:27 tells us “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” We do have a call to look after those in need. However, it is a personal obligation – not something we can pass of to others to do.

Through lack of faith, King David disobeyed the Lord by commanding that the number of fighting men be determined. A pestilence fell on the land and David cried out to the Lord, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O LORD my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people.” David understood that the responsibility was his and his alone, yet he found that his actions harmed a great many people.

An angel commanded that to finally make things right he should make an altar on the threshing floor of Oman the Jebusite. When he arrived at the site, Oman offered to give him the threshing floor as a donation. David knew this was not right… that the sacrifice was his responsibility. He told Oman, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

The king knew he could not meet his obligation by offering something that was not his. No one else could make things right for him. Yet many people who are supposedly disciples of the Word believe that their responsibility to take care of the less fortunate can be met by having the government take from others so their conscience would be eased as others pay the bill.

This brings us to the seventh commandment, that tells us not to steal – which is taking something that belongs to someone else. Often, the brutal taxation these people advocate is collected without the consent of their fellow citizens. So, not only are these “concerned citizens” allowing others to meet their responsibility, they are using the coercive power of the government to force others to make “contributions” they do not wish to make.

Then there is the matter discussed in II Corinthians 6 where we read, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Christians asking the government to handle their charitable obligations are aligning themselves with politicians and bureaucrats who, often, share none of their spiritual motivation. In fact, the administration currently in power is one of the most anti-Christian we have ever seen in this country. Yet some sincerely believe they are doing God’s work by supporting them.

The task of looking after the poor is never ending. Even Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you.” So what is the purpose of the charitable mandate we find in scripture? I would suggest that it is similar to the reason we are instructed to tithe… that is give ten percent as a recognition that all good things come from our Creator. God does not need our money. He could, by simply decreeing it to be so, feed them all like He did the Israelites as they wandered through the desert on the route to the promised land.

He chooses not to do that, but puts the task in our hands… knowing that the job could never be done. Helping the less fortunate does, however, like tithing, demonstrate obedience and our concern for our fellow man. Unfortunately, outsourcing our charitable works does not help us meet any of these goals and, given the term “entitlement” gives the recipients the idea that free help from others is something they have coming to them, rather than receiving help from a concerned friend or neighbor in the name of Christ.

There is, of course, a corollary to this idea that Christians should not outsource their charity to the ever expanding government agencies. It is that the individually and corporately, Christians need to take more interest in meeting the needs in their communities. Of course, evangelical Christian already give much more to charitable organizations than progressives who believe in government programs. The Knights of Columbus is one of the most charitable organizations in the country. But much more can be one. I was a member of a class that bought jackets for students at a local elementary school. Another time, we bought shoes for them… and back packs with school supplies. There are, like Jesus said, always needs around us we can meet… without a bloated bureaucracy watching over us.

We say we believe in individual responsibility, let’s take some responsibility and be a community resource… we may have to fight big brother to do it, but that’s OK. It’s the right thing to do.

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