The people that try to paint Jesus or God as a socialist have obviously not read scripture. As always there is a danger when people go to the extreme on any teaching, and it is the same with giving others money, food, help, etc… What we are taught constantly in scripture is that we should not be lazy, gluttonous, or envious of what others have. Now, I’m no legalist, as any of my regular readers will know, but I do believe we are given guidelines of what will truly make us content and given the direction that will make us the most efficient and “best” human possible while on this earth.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
It’s pretty clear; you don’t work you shouldn’t eat. If you are idle, if you are not seeing to your own provision, you should not eat. In our society food is usually bought with money, so that means you should be gainfully employed. It can also include working the land for your own food. I am dismayed as I look around this great country, the U.S., and find people not willing to see to their own provision.
Now, the scripture is also clear that if someone has need through no fault of their own, we should see to them. Our welfare and disability system here in the U.S. makes a mockery out of this idea. As one great teacher I know once said, “if you can talk on the phone, you can work.” Yes, times are tough and jobs can be hard to find, though I question whether it is jobs that are hard to find, or people willing to work, to do anything gainful to make some money, including working in the fields, or washing dishes. The ability to work with and through computers and the internet have almost guaranteed that a vast majority of people can indeed work.
I cannot tell you, dear reader, how much I respect the waitresses, the garbage men, the presidents and CEO’s of companies, the teachers, the accountants, the custodial staffs, anyone that sees to their own provision through work. Money in this world is for taking care of oneself, one’s family, and others that truly cannot earn a living of their own; children, the elderly, those completely mentally incapacitated, etc… However, that is the job of the church, not the job of the government. Further, it is not my job to manage your money, it’s your job.
In that same chapter, Thessalonians also gives another reason to work; if you don’t, you tend to turn into a busybody. A busybody is someone who sticks their noses into other people’s business, other people’s sins, other people’s lives. If you are gainfully employed you are seeing to yourself and those to whom you are responsible.
In short, if there is anything you can do to be gainfully employed, you should be. There should be no unnecessary mooching off of the government, the brethren, or taxpayers. For the truly needy, the church should be a help. Laziness, idleness, OR a lack of legitimate, earned income is not a virtue. It is indeed scripturally on the males to be the major breadwinners and to take care of their families. Women too can, and should play a role in work and support; neither gender should be lazy, but there is something especially fulfilling for a man to be gainfully employed, and something especially annoying or painful about a man that will not work, nor seek work of any kind.
We, as believers, should be unbelievably generous, loving, helpful, and kind. We should also be industrious in some form, be good stewards, occupying until the Lord returns, or we go to meet him in death. While we work in the occupation God leads us to, there is also time for rest, and fun, and relaxation. If we find ourselves in dire straits, or unable to work, there is no shame in asking our church family for help and to accept help when and where it is given.