Leviticus 25:35-38 – “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36’Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. 37’You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain. 38’I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” NASB
I have had conversations with people of all political ideological positions and with Christians regarding welfare and/or benevolence. Some insist that it is the responsibility of the government federal and state to care for the poor and needy. I find that from a strict interpretation of the original language of the Constitution that is not what the founding fathers of America believed.
But I am less interested in anyone’s interpretation of the Constitution, in this devotional, than I am in God’s view as revealed in Scripture. When I want to know how a matter such as this is handled, I follow the model of “first mention” in the Bible and move throughout the entirety of Scripture. My objective is to find out God’s view and my responsibility in any matter.
I believe that the Christian Church abdicated its responsibility regarding benevolence and allowed the government to become the benefactor of the needy. If someone else is taking care of the need then I feel absolved of my responsibility. Sadly, we have done that in too many things regarding the political and even the home. It is time that we consider God’s view and seek to apply His principles to our lives.
Here, there is a clear directive regarding those in need. It covers all people in need and who are truly needy. It does not cover laziness and unwillingness to work but for those truly needy there is a responsibility for the believer. The directive in this passage is that it is our responsibility to take care of the needy person enabling them to get back on their feet.
The Bible does not teach that we are to make people permanent wards of the state, the church, or our families. Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “…if any would not work, neither should he eat.” I believe that if a person is allowed to feel the pain of their laziness they will gravitate toward productivity. I did not say, “could not work, but would not work.” The key is ‘would not’ rather than ‘could not.’ If a person is incapable of working then we, the family of God should be willing to share our sustenance to sustain them.
One of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin succulently said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course, became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
We have many passages to draw from on caring for the poor and needy in the Bible. Let me list a few and you research them: Deuteronomy 15:7-15; Judges 19:16-21; Job 31:16-23; Psalm 41:1; Psalm 112:9; Proverbs 3:27-28; Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 28:27; Matthew 5:42; Matthew 25:35-45; Galatians 6:10; and James 1:27 are a few. There are more, but Proverbs 19:17 is possibly one of the most powerful and arresting. It says, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed.”
Imagine that! Giving to the poor and needy is lending to God! That is incredible, and in the light of Psalms 24:1 where we find that the earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live on the earth are God’s. Yet, He tells us that if we are generous and caring of the poor, He considers it a loan. That puts an entirely different twist to stewardship, but it is an unavoidable truth of the Bible – We are to care for the truly needy.
God bless you as you make this day a day of blessing and enjoy the fruit of God’s Promises in your life.
I agree with you