Jesus said to help the poor; but He also told the parable of the talents, where different servants were given different amounts of money to manage. All are held accountable. Those who made something of their talents were commended. The one who wasted his talent was condemned.
In the 1990s, our government worked to reform the welfare system. According to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, welfare reform has been undermined over the years by liberals in Congress as well as by the Obama Administration. Under President Obama’s plans, welfare spending will increase rapidly over the next decade.
There’s a great new book, For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty, edited by Anne Bradley and Art Lindsley of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.
In the book (p. 323), they quote Bob Lupton, author of Toxic Charity, who said:
*Give once and you elicit appreciation;
*Give twice and you create anticipation;
*Give three times and you create expectation;
*Give four time and it becomes entitlement;
*Give five times and you establish dependency.
I interviewed Dr. Lindsley, co-editor of For the Least of These, the other day on radio. He wrote an essay for the book: “Does God Require the State to Redistribute Wealth? An Examination of Jubilee and Acts 2-5.” Short answer: No, and it misreads Scriptures to say He does.
We noted in the interview that two of the Ten Commandments undercut any type of socialistic scheme, of which the War on Poverty is a prominent example: Thou shalt not steal (thus, giving sanction to private property) and Thou shalt not covet (socialism is based squarely on coveting).
Does this mean in any way I oppose helping the poor? Absolutely not. But there’s a huge difference between individuals, families, the churches, and voluntary organizations reaching out to the needy versus a faceless bureaucracy---the state, which does so inefficiently as well.
If you really care about the poor, then help them as much as possible to enable themselves. The cliché is true here: A hand up is infinitely better than a hand out.