Get A JOB, You LAZY Bum!

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

  • Those bums are LAZY, and you can’t fix LAZY!
  • Those people WANT to live like that.
  • They don’t want to change.
  • Some people just don’t like to WORK.
  • When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Which of these quotes comes from the Bible?  Need to look it up?  (Here’s a hint: Matthew 9:36)

If you guessed the bottom one, you guessed right.  But how many Christians can you quote by saying the top four?  How many Christians can you quote saying the last one?  How about the bold print statement at the header? (It’s not in the Bible either.)

Is it possible that we Christians have our alms, charity, and heart-for-the-poor all jacked up?  Do we have our Kingdom agenda mixed up in some other political agendas and try to pass it off as righteous?

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To the extent that we lay claim to the Bible, I think we do have it jacked up.  But in today’s church, it seems the Bible is optional really, for we can make plenty of conservative sound bytes serve our purpose whether they really come from the Bible or not, and when they do come from the Bible, we ditch the biblical context and force them to serve our contempt for the poor rather than the poor Jesus loves.

A few years ago, I started looking for biblical sound bytes we might use to counteract this trend.  I pored over my Bible afresh seeking real biblical evidence.  At one point, I took a Strong’s Concordance (and other research tools) and looked up every instance of words like “lazy”, “sluggard”, “poor”, “poverty”, “needy”, “orphan, widow, sojourner”, and so forth.  I found every use of these words in several translations – yeah, I was thorough.

I really thought I would find poverty blamed on laziness – especially in the book of Proverbs.  I can say with confidence that Proverbs has more to say about laziness than any other book.  Some of the more notable passages say, “How long will you lie down, O sluggard?  When will you arise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – Your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man” (Prov. 6:9-11; 24:32-34).  Sure enough poverty is blamed on laziness in these two proverbs, but it is blamed on injustice too (13:23).  While there are lots of observations made about laziness (10:4, 26; 13:4; 15:19; 18:9; 19:15, 24; 20:4; 24:30-34; 26:13-16) – always with negative connotation, there is very little blame against the poor themselves for their own predicament.  On the contrary, all through the Bible (including the Proverbs) we find exhortation to care for the poor!

But the most common Bible verse I hear quoted on this subject (after all, some people do take the biblical option) comes from St. Paul’s second letter to Thessalonica, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (II Thess. 3:10).  This text lifted out of the context in Thessalonica and blanketed over homeless people on our city streets sounds biblical, but is that really fair?  Especially when I can quote dozens of passages that would seem to contradict St. Paul there if we disregarded context so easily!

What Does God Say?  What If We Let Him Set The Agenda?

The two most famous passages regarding treatment of the poor and needy in the New Testament (on the lips of Jesus, no less) are the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the Judgement of Goats and Sheep (Matt. 25:31-46).  I am quick to note that the Matthew-25 passage is really about eternal Judgment, and how our care for the poor determines whether we join the sheep or the goats!  This passage is that important!

Considering that eternal Judgment hangs in the balance, it would seem Christian types would want to take this post seriously.  Considering that eternal Judgment hangs in the balance, it would seem Christian types might not want to make such flippant remarks as those listed at the top!  Considering that eternal Judgment hangs in the balance, it would seem that Christian types would want to explore the Scriptures carefully to discern what God has to say.

Yes, we must take St. Paul’s remarks seriously, but also within context so that we don’t contradict the words of Jesus or any other part of the Bible.  And considering how little the Bible actually says in judgment of the poor and/or lazy, but on the contrary how much it has to say about caring for the poor, we must not let the tail wag the dog with a couple of biblical sound bytes, but rather dive into the depth of God’s love for the poor and needy.

 

 

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6 comments

  1. John Lewis · November 16

    Gonna get yourself into trouble challenging people on their ideologies and opinions like that!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Larry Who · November 16

    Christianity has done a lousy job of teaching about giving to the poor and needy. Why? Because most church leaders want to see those tithes and offerings continue to flow into the offering plates on Sundays. But the truth is that members are not automatically prospered by giving to churches, even though it’s taught that way. Under the Law, Jews gave to the Temple and its storehouse, but the Temple is gone. Thus, the church has bent the rules more than a little by taking the Temple’s place, as in using the verses of Malachi 3 to talk its members into giving.

    The #1 way to be blessed by giving our finances is to obey God’s voice. Now, can you imagine the problems if a pastor teaches his/her members to only give where God says to give? Goodbye control.

    And the #2 way to be blessed by giving finances is to give to the poor and needy, as in Psalm 41:1-3, Prov. 19:17, 1 Corinthians 13:3 (but stated in a positive manner).

    Thus, giving to the poor and needy is a financially sound investment

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · November 17

      Larry,

      To clarify, to make sure I am reading your comment right, and to feedback with my words and emphases… It appears that Church leaders/religious leaders have turned “giving” into a selfish ambition. First off, those leaders stand to gain personally/financially from tithes and contributions which otherwise are directed by Scripture/God, and subtly the emphasis shifts from honoring God to lining their own pockets. Of course this phenom is not so subtle by the time it gets to Televangelism and Megachurches – especially those that proclaim a “health-n-wealth gospel”. Those fat cats do this craft rather shamelessly and only barely attach a vague notion of Scripture to it as they claim God blesses them in your giving and promises to bless you in your giving too!

      Thus, secondly, the leaders are teaching the church masses and disciples to give with some mystical ideal of a cosmic payback. A what-comes-around-goes-around Karma style giving baptized in Christian terminology at the end of which all of Christendom has become self-serving rather than self sacrificial.

      Of course, thirdly, this does not negate that there is a blessing to be had in the giving. In my own view, giving to the poor has a side effect of helping all boats to rise, which has a bubble-up (as opposed to trickle-down) effect for us all. But perhaps even more importantly, and your last sentence seems to resonate here, giving to the poor pays off in the end! Certainly, if Jesus is correct in saying those poor and needy ARE HIM (Matt. 25:40), then Judgment hangs on this giving/care, which certainly is the ultimate dividend on any investment! Perhaps you might care to be invested in heaven’s pavement… (I hear it’s made of gold!).

      Thanx so much for your contribution on this blog, btw. Your input here is highly valued.

      X

      Like

  3. Agent X · November 21

    I am pleased by all the traffic this post has generated, and two readers saw fit to respond. Thanx for that.

    However, I am surprised that in almost five days on the open sea of the world wide web, and numerous clicks of those stopping by to see my offerings, that no one has challenged me to answer St. Paul or defend what he has said by demonstrating how it is not contradictory. Because the prima facie evidence points powerfully in favor of those who quote II Thess 3:10 as if the old apostle were turning his back on the homeless at the church-house door.

    I definitely challenged that position, but I did not mount a supporting case at all, and I really figured it would generate discussion/argument by posting the way I did.

    Thus, I am surprised.

    Like

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