Government Handouts

I grew up in a conservative home. We weren’t just republican, we were conservative. As I reached my teen years, I didn’t approve of Government hand outs for the general conservative reasons. Government shouldn’t be taking money from people who have worked hard to earn it in order to give it to someone who refuses to get a job. Thus, the entire program was condemned in my mind. I even thought that it would be wrong to take that money and that taking it demonstrated a lack of faith that God would care for you.

This mindset is the type of thing that I believe often happens, in some vein of practical life or theology, through the teen years into early adult-hood. We establish for ourselves staunch rules that we believe to be based on principles and never really reevaluate them until seriously challenged.

Recently I participated in a discussion that has caused me to look even more closely at why taking any help is so frowned upon by Christians. So, without further ado, I will address some of the common statements I have heard and comment on their virtues.

“People should work hard.” Amen! They should work hard. This is something that was determined pre-fall. Adam and Eve were told to work before the fall. Work is good, and we should do it. Laziness is sin. We all agree on that.

“If people don’t work, then neither should they eat.” Yes, the principle there is that if you aren’t working to supply when you can, you should not be cared for by others. Each individual is responsible to work to provide for himself and his family. The early church had members that had sold all their stuff and quit their jobs in anticipation of Christ’s return and they were then refusing to work, just waiting, and the church was caring for them. Paul’s command was that if they don’t work, then stop feeding them. This does not apply to those that can’t work, those that have retired, those that are still working hard and still struggling to make ends meet.

“A person who doesn’t provide for his own is worse than an infidel.” Again, this is true, with the same principle from above. We are talking about people fully capable of working who are not doing so. This is not talking about people struggling to live with all their might who are poor and needy. God speaks extensively about how they ARE to be cared for.

“Money shouldn’t be taken from those that work and given to those that don’t work.” This is derived from the above principles and from the fact that men are to enjoy the fruits of their labors as found throughout the Scriptures. Mon

“The church should give money to the poor. God gives that responsibility to the church.” This is often taken too out of context; no where does Scripture say that the church, as one of the three institutions of God, is to care for the poor. The church is to care for widows indeed, that is, widows in the church over a certain age who have no family to care for them. The local church is NOT charged with this task. Individual Christians are, and so the universal body of Christ is to care for the poor. Churches in Macedonia and Achaia ministered to the poor at Jerusalem, but we see that as an example, and not a command. As a local body of believers, we are not commanded to minister to social needs, but as individuals, we are to care for the poor and needy. There are many verses about doing so in both the OT and NT, but it is not a responsibility assigned to the church.

“Government doesn’t have the right to take the money that you earned and give it to a person who isn’t working. That is stealing.” Eh…no. Government has the right to tax. Scripture puts no limitations on what they can tax, or how, or how much. Scripture gives some responsibilities (you might even be able to say the primary responsibility – punishment) of Government, but doesn’t give limitations on Government. For instance, the Bible never says, “Government should not give money to the poor,” nor does it say that it should defend its borders, etc.

Now we are getting to the touchy subject. Government is never told not to tax to pay for a coliseum. Government is never told to not tax, or what to do with its money once it has it. Christians are never told to object either. Government has the right to take taxes (really, out of all things the Bible does say about Government this is one of the most clear!), and those taxes are not stealing, nor are they any longer the monies of the citizens. They are the Government’s, and the Government can do what they want with them: including killing Christian’s and/or giving it to lazy people. The Government has that right, be it moral or not. Should Government kill Christians? No. Should it give money to lazy people? No. Does it have the right? Yes.

“But Romans 13 doesn’t list all these specifics about Government.” Exactly! Romans 13 is not a dissertation on Government. It is Paul speaking to a church about how they are to respond to Government, and with that recognizing that Government’s authority is from God, and we are to submit to it. It is not a biblical constitution. The Bible doesn’t present a government outline, ever. In fact, central to the passage is the citizens’ response to pay tribute, dues, custom.

“Well, our government is based on the Constitution and that says these taxes are wrong.” Our government is based on the Constitution, but is the Constitutions the law of the land today? To answer this, we must find what is practiced and enforced in our land. That will reveal where the power truly resides. Every person who is familiar enough with the Constitution to make the argument that these things are against the law, are defeating themselves with the plethora of issues that are “illegal.” If all of these things are taking place, and they all are against the Constitution, and if people are not going to jail, and the enforcers of the Law are upholding them, then they have become the new law. The Old Law is no longer. To suppose that in order to replace the Constitution, it must be changed by the method described in the Constitution is nonsense. It is far easier to surpass it by taking power, which is what has been done. If these taxes were illegal, then they would not have taken place for as long as they have; instead they have been enforced by the Government.

“People shouldn’t take the money even if the Government is giving it; you need to work for what you get.” There is no verse to back this up. Nehemiah took money and troops from his Government. Jesus and his disciples took food they did not work for. Joseph as Governor of Egypt gave gold and silver to his brothers because he wanted to, gold and silver that belonged to the Egyptian Government. The Egyptians had to pay for food, but Joseph’s family had free food. Not only did they not pay for it on two separate occasions, but they moved to Government land, and lived off Government food for five years of famine. What type of Government handout is that?! A Government handout that saved much people alive. A God ordained Government handout; God sent Joseph to Egypt for that very purpose, so that the Government would save them.

Christ tells us to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. If you can get your hands on money legally and appropriately, do it. Someone wins the lottery and wants to donate to the church? Take it. Someone made a bet and wants to give you some, take it. The store is giving out free samples of food, try some. The company down the road is having hot dogs and ice cream for dinner for free, go eat. Take advantage of what you can. You, as a Holy Spirit filled child of God, are going to be a better wiser steward of it than anyone else would be. I fear many Christians will get to Heaven to be told, “Look at what more you could have done if you would have taken that extra money I was trying to give you.”

In conclusion, work hard, trust the Lord, don’t expect to be supplied in your laziness, but don’t prevent the Lord’s blessing with some self-righteous claim of real faith, and ignoring the provision He would happily give you from non-Christian/family sources.

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the very real danger of coming short and being a castaway

Fear God and “pursue holiness without which, no man shall see the Lord.”

“Faith without works is dead.”

“Make your calling and election sure.”

26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;”

20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”

26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

There are plenty of verses in the Bible to put a little bit more energy or importance into our spiritual laboring. If the apostle Paul considered that “by any means” he might be a castaway, where are we to stand? Certainly the Bible teaches eternal security and the assurance of salvation as a blessing of walking with God. But the warnings given are not given without purpose. They have an announced purpose and that is to drive us to run, fight, work, not be entangled, escape, repent, pursue holiness, make our election sure, and to avoid sinning willfully.

Our willful sin should cause us to question ourselves in light of these verses. The truth of our utter depravity and deceitful hearts, combined with the exhortations in Scripture that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, should drive us to question. When we find sin easy for us, that it does not grieve us, that we can justify or excuse it, that we are not found sorrowing over it, we need to “repent and do the first works.”

If the definition of back-slidden is someone who is truly saved but yet in sin, then certainly the Bible teaches that this can happen in the persons of Lot and David. That back-slidden person should not assume that they were ever saved to begin with though. That person should repent and do the first works, that is how faith is made evident, by works.

Who are we to cast judgment on anyone? Our own sin should be so livid before us, that we should cry out with the apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am” and I am “the chief of sinners.” It is not our place to sit in judgment of others salvation. We exhort one another, and encourage one another, understanding that we may not struggle with certain things because of the victory that God gives, and not our own selves.

God does not give warnings to hear Himself speak. He didn’t record these words because He needed to reach a certain word count, or page length. God gave these warnings because they are real, and because true saints will strive, will not become weary and be done, but will press towards the mark. This is a real danger; a danger that can be avoided, but a real danger. Let us not sin willfully. Let us repent and do the first works lest by any means we become a castaway.

Courageous

This movie, from the makers of Fireproof and Facing the Giants, has had a lot of hype around here. I have seen at least two tweets from Piper recommending it as well as links to movie reviews raving about it. In addition our church’s new Children’s Pastor was super excited to see it, our church bought 75 tickets for our men to go see it, and Pastor read the resolution from the pulpit after he preached about men being proper servant leaders in their homes.

I was not able to go to see the movie with our church due to an out of state wedding. I went last night. I haven’t done a movie review before, so we’ll see how this goes.

The christian movie was family based, containing scenes of action, scenes full of emotion, and comic relief. It’s target audience is men who are not doing their best as fathers, but just “being pretty good dads.” It was the best Christian movie I’ve seen, and I would say it was pretty good.

It was a Christian film. The Gospel presentation was clear. The conversation among Christians within the film was life-like and referenced church and God without presenting it as a Sunday School lesson where that is what they need to say because they are in church. It did not seem hypocritical preachyness. The principles that brought about the turning point in the movie were not from some random sense of morality or ethics but plainly from Scripture.

Meant for fathers, it was not apologetic in its purpose. It featured many different situations of fatherhood. It was about as comprehensive as I imagine you could make it. Each different father had a different lesson to learn and some different aspect of application of the principles presented. Those watching the movie could sympathize with at least one or more of the characters and families. The emphasis was on the lessons that could be learned, and I can see many people learning things and being encouraged from them.

However, I don’t know that everyone will come out of there challenged. Anyone that has a solid conviction or a Biblical pursuit should only find a reinforcement of what they are already praying for. Being a husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the church is a more sobering thought than reading a resolution on being a good man, no matter how well written or how much Biblical proposition it holds (in my opinion). Finding in your Bible the command of holy God to lead with a servant’s heart, leaves little conviction left for a movie. But then, many people are moved or convicted by a devotional book than they might be by reading God’s Word, and this movie is a good devotional.

That leads to my next point, not only should this be seen by fathers, as marketed, but I think it should probably be the instructional video for any Arminian-alter-call seminar. It had everything you need. It was an roller coaster with emotional highs and lows and sharp facts to supplement them. It has some Biblical principle and maybe a verse or two. It hit you over and over with sorrow and as you began to recover and softened to the humor it hit you again. I’m not very emotional and as I was prepared, I didn’t cry, but I can definitely attest to the power of the strategy as my emotions were twisted. The end was nothing more than a theatrical altar call, literally. It ended at the church with the main father up front calling others to be good fathers. People crying all over in the movie encouraged you to cry, and the call to stand up within the movie made me (and others?) afraid to stand up to leave at the credits because it might seem that I am responding to the call in the movie. It was more moving than 25 verses of “Just as I Am,” and a pastor trying to persuade you that God’s plan is down at the front of the aisle.

Whether you would find the movie entertaining is a matter of your personal preference. I don’t tend to watch emotional movies. I don’t often watch family dramas, and so for me this was not about entertainment. Was it a good movie? Yeah; it was not full of pointless drama or mindless fads. It was clean and seemed true to real life. Be ready to cry and laugh and then do it again. It offers Biblical truth and principles on being a man, and father. It can be convicting if you are open, and that isn’t bad. When presented with truth in various forms, conviction can and should happen. It might not if you are already convinced or convicted, or it might not if you can just ignore application of truth to your life. It is encouraging to see a better quality Christian film, and hope that they continue to get better. Though if they continue on the theme of family, I’m not sure if we will ever have a good Christian movie with intrigue or plot twists, but perhaps down the road.

Not something you need to see in theaters, but something that you might want to see when it comes out on video.

(If I need to give it stars, I guess I would say: 3 out of 5)

Desensitized

I have been thinking a lot lately about the things I have become accustomed to. A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I think many of us have grown accustomed to the word sin. It is used so regularly and we have heard it preached against so often that it does not affect us the way that it probably once did, or perhaps still should. There are more things like this.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it?”

If this does not cause us to call out to God to save us from ourselves, then what would? What more can be said of our wickedness? This verse has become easy to say, easy to hear, easy to write, and easy to read. When we can read or hear this verse and we say to ourselves, “Ah, this is so true. Our hearts are deceitful and wicked.” Then we say, “Amen!” And our heart says, “Gotcha!” It doesn’t do us any good to recognize this fact and then not let it influence us. If this truth does nothing for us, then our hearts have deceived us into thinking we are immune to a truth because we now know it.

Knowing a truth doesn’t make us immune to it. There are many things we know. Reminding ourselves of them or even of how important they are is not the same as doing them. It is not a solution to remind yourself that you should be content always, praying is necessary, and that we need to give thanks in all things. Reminding ourselves is not the same as doing it. It isn’t the same as being content, praying, or thanking.

Not only does our heart deceive us and we too easily neglect the solemn warning of Jeremiah, but we also have come to neglect the fact that God hates sin. Do we know what it means to hate? Does this statement scare us? Hatred is that deep welling of emotion in intense disgust and anger toward the object of hatred. Whether you have hated something or someone, hatred is not a comfortable feeling. The presence of the object brings such distaste and sickness. The hearing of the person causes anger to rise within you. God hates sin.

God HATES sin!

God hates sin.

Do we get the point? Is there any part of us that still thinks that minor slight, rude comment, unkind word, failure to give a helping hand, is not a big deal? Does God look on sin and say “Oh, you were tired and just didn’t want to go out of your way today, I understand.” No! God hates sin! How can we not fear?

People don’t like to be afraid. We don’t like to be sensitive to things. We want things to come easily to us. Americans especially, consider people of weak constitution if they are afraid. We do not want to live in fear; we don’t want to acknowledge God as Lord of our entire life. We don’t want to consider the serious implications of our “minor” decisions. We don’t want to live soberly. We come up with all types of excuses, but this is exactly the life God calls us to live.