Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
Today there is much talk about how people who have been greatly blessed should “share your wealth” with those who are less fortunate. Many Christians have been convinced this is their duty. I believe all Christians should and would gladly share their wealth with those who are mentally or physically incapable of helping themselves. If not for the grace of God, we could all be in that position. But what does God really say about sharing the wealth so all can be equal?
Using The Message version, in the third chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he tells the new Christians in verse 13, “Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.” Many have interpreted this command to say a Christian’s duty is to help everyone.
If you go back to verse 10, Paul says, “Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you.”
Paul’s next instruction to these Christians says “This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep.”
If you keep going up to verse 6, you can read Paul’s specific orders, “Our orders—backed up by the Master, Jesus—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.”
How has our government convinced so many hard-working Christians that it is their duty to “share their wealth” with the good-for-nothings among us who refuse to work? This thinking certainly did not come form God’s word. Instead God tells us that if we tolerate such behavior, we encourage people to become slothful. In I Thessalonians 4:12, Paul says, “We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.”
Ever since the beginning of the Christian church, God has never expected His children to share their hard-earned blessings to support able-bodied men who simply “choose” to not work but lie around sponging off others.