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July 12, 2009

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Definitely agree with steps 1-3. It makes sense that if someone is receiving help (regardlss of if it's from the church or the government), there should be a plan to get them back on their feet.

I know my church will give the person needing assistance some sort of work to do whether it is cleaning at the chapel or helping somewhere. It is not to get free labor out of someone. It is for their self worth, so they can feel like they are not just getting a handout but doing a little for the assistance.

Hmmm.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Not seeing a lot of qualifiers and "for a limited time only" and "you better be a member of our church" there, FMF. In fact, I do believe I'm seeing references there to the *most* despised of society, those unpleasant poor who just don't fit our ideas of virtuous poverty.

Sarah --

I think you need to look at what all Scripture says on this topic and make a conclusion (which is what almost every Bible scholar would recommend), not simply take some verses and use them to make the point you want to. I know you're prone to quote only to make your point (based on past comments), but if you really want to know what the Bible says on the topic, you need to look at the big picture.

If you do this, I think you'll see that the Bible says:

1. We should help the poor, certainly, as I've noted above.

2. The poor should help themselves (or at least make the attempt.) FYI, there's a difference between someone being unwilling to work and unable to work.

3. There's no disgrace in doing jobs in exchange for assistance.

4. There's no command I've found that says a Christian should or is advised to give to someone whatever that person wants and that person can keep on taking without trying to help themselves or control their spending. There needs to be accountability and responsibility.

5. Along the lines of accountability and responsibility, I think this is why we see so much failure in our governmental programs to help the poor -- there's no accountability, no responsibility, no call to better oneself required or encouraged.

6. There are tons of verses dealing with slothfulness (see Proverbs) and the consequences and actions.

7. There are those who are truly poor and can not help/get themselves out of poverty no matter what they try. I believe it's these people the verses you quote refer to. These are not the vast majority of poor people in America (they may be when looked at on a worldwide basis.) The "truly poor" as I'll call them, do need to be treated with more grace, compassion, and giving. But, as I said, these are not most of the poor people in the US.

FMF,

Very well summarized. I agree with your points.

Also, to add to FMF's points,

the absence of qualifiers in the sheep/goats text doesn't mean that we can't add our own. Giving to the poor in exchange for a clear budget plan, or odd jobs around the church is still giving to the poor-it still fits the framework. Now, we could play with the Sermon on the Mount-give to everyone who asks of you- but I think on balance, the danger of enabling cycles of poverty are real.

Also, there are questions of scale. Some people ask for a little bit of food, some people ask for help with large rent or utilities bills. Our church asks a little more from people who are receiving more support.

I agree with FMF comments on the important step on working with the families to analyze a budget. I have been asked to help such families complete a "needs based analysis" for families in the congregation that were seeking assistance. I have one general comment on helping families with needs based analysis. I have seen a common theme in laying out peoples budgets, and that is the families often have troubles determining needs vs. wants. High speed internet, cable tv, and the all inclusive calling plans are not needs. Food, housing, modest clothing, etc. are needs. I often imagine the children in these situations and think that it must be hard to focus on spiritual matters when physical matters have not been met.

On a separate note, I think someone got boom boom powed.

Bill said:

I know my church will give the person needing assistance some sort of work to do whether it is cleaning at the chapel or helping somewhere. It is not to get free labor out of someone. It is for their self worth, so they can feel like they are not just getting a handout but doing a little for the assistance.


As one who has toiled for decades performing menial labor at minimum wage, I can say that menial labor has detracted from my self worth, and has not done much "for" it. Have I acquired a bad attitude?

Terry,

I have also had to work menial jobs, but I would take that over being unemployed any day of the week. We shouldn't get so hung up in titles, responsibilities, ranks, etc.

This is one reason I am so against government assistance relative to charitable/church help. The government just gives folks money and then restricts the amount of money they can earn. If they earn too much, they lose the benefit. So, the government essentially creates a situation where the person doesn't try to work or else they lose the benefit.

Charitable organizations help folks by providing for their basic needs, but also moving them to get back on their feet. Plus, charitable organizations can do it for a fraction of the cost.

Great post! When someone comes to our church seeking assistance, they sit down and speak with one our ministers who tries to find out exactly what is going on. I know of a particular situation where the family thought the only answer was receiving a huge handout. It wasn't. The minister helped show them another route, gave them the counseling and help (including financial) they needed to get back on their feet. I couldn't agree more with FMF's points 1-3 and his summary.

I'm not sure what our exact policy is on helping members vs non-members. We do have a local co-op who is supported by the area churches that we will refer most people to, though. A huge advantage of the co-op is to prevent people from "working the system"- going from church to church to get handouts.

"Along the lines of accountability and responsibility, I think this is why we see so much failure in our governmental programs to help the poor -- there's no accountability, no responsibility, no call to better oneself required or encouraged."


What government programs are you thinking of specifically? I can see how welfare would be described like that before it was reformed.

The government does creat a situation of not trying to get out of welfare. Once you go over their earning or cash on hand amount (which by the way is $2000.00) your benefits end. That means if you are just over by $1.00 it ends. Now tell me how long do you think that money is going to last. You get yourself out of welfare by saving and working hard, but then what amount you can save will be used very fast if you income is still very low.

We Sold our land and bought an RV to come here Because of what they would offer our mmr autistic son. Loaded up my other three kids and headed out. At the Nebraska kansas border the battery mounts broke, and all three batteries fell over and caught the dash on fire. We lost the little safe with our money and prescriptions and a few other thing. We loaded the rest into the horse trailer and car and headed on sense we didn't have anything to go back to. We got here and my disabled husband and myself both went out and found jobs. Then Money ran out jobs havent started yet so disabled hubby went to labor ready and has worked everyday to pay motel bill one day at a time. We have been everywhere for a hand up not hand out. But have been turned away. Now we are looking at living in a tent until we get our first checks. I have two jobs but do not get paid for two weeks. We are not bad people but not a single church we have called will even call us back. We are christians and we understand there are so many people out there so much more needy than we are but its hard to think about my kids in this situation. We started out right with the RV. I'm just glad that our handicapped son is still in hospital. My real question is why wont they atleast call me and say hey, we cant help you?

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