With the economic, health care and welfare issues in this country, I wanted to share this article by Crown Financial Ministries that explains all that I am feeling, and is said so much better than I could ever say it! Crown Financial Ministries mission is to equip servant leaders to live by God’s design for their finances, work and life … to advance transformation. Their vision is to Share Truth, Deliver Hope, Advance Transformation. Core Values are Lordship – Jesus Christ is our Head. All that we do should reflect our humble submission to His leading. We will seek Him first in our personal lives and corporate decisions. Stewardship – In all decisions we make, we do so with a desire to please the Lord with our management of the resources He has entrusted to us. Generosity – We commit ourselves to foster a culture of biblical generosity, practicing generous living and gracious giving, within our spheres of influence through modeling, teaching and equipping.
Welfare–Is it necessary?
by Crown Financial Ministries
The failure of welfare
Most Christians favor caring for those who truly are in need of help. However, most Christians also recognize the abuses and excesses in the current welfare system, evidenced by children in $100 running shoes, whose families are supported by government welfare and food stamps, and men who father children and are nowhere to be found when it's time to support their children.
So, although most Christians agree that, from a biblical perspective, it is not only important but it is mandated to care for the poor, the involuntary transfer of wealth from one group of taxpayers to another is not the type of care that God had in mind.
President Grover Cleveland best described the prevailing government welfare policy concerning the transfer of payments from the federal government to private citizens when he made a stand against helping a very deserving orphanage in New York City during a severe economic crisis: “I will not be a party to stealing money from one group of citizens to give to another group of citizens, no matter what the need or apparent justification. Once the coffers of the federal government are open to the public, there will be no shutting them again.” He went on to conclude, “It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.”
President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society thrust the federal government into the role of total provider, even of the most basic needs: food and shelter. However, without the tempering influence of God's Word at the heart of the program, the Great Society quickly broke down the basic structure of the family and morality. What started out to be a government program to eliminate poverty quickly became a multibillion dollar nightmare that today still promotes slothfulness, immorality, fraud and deception, and political greed.
To realize just how devastating this transfer-of-wealth mentality has been to our future economic health, we only need to view the facts. In 1962 all entitlements, such as welfare and Social Security, took $32 billion (28 percent of all government spending). In 1995 the total spent on entitlements was $795 billion (50.4 percent of all government spending) and it is rising yearly. With the best of intentions, our government's welfare system has trapped thousands of people at the lowest economic level by its indiscriminate giving.
Welfare rarely helps the poor. It merely traps them at this lowest level and inadvertently teaches those who rely on it that their actions don't have consequences. In addition, welfare becomes a way out for irresponsible fathers, because their children will be provided for regardless of what choices they make. The government fills the role of provider, a responsibility that rightfully rests with the fathers. Welfare at every level, from the inner city to the elderly, is in reality destroying the morale as well as the economic base of our nation.
Some people would say that the average American is better off as a result of this government intervention but, in reality, people are not better off by allowing someone else to provide for them if they can provide for themselves. Welfare never should be considered long-term assistance. If parents stay on welfare for an extended period, there is a good chance that their children also will choose long-term welfare. Welfare is a cycle that's been passed from generation to generation in many families.
The church or government?
It is usually a lengthy process to wean oneself off the system of welfare, but this process would definitely be expedited with the help of the church. Unfortunately, the church has failed to carry out God's plan to provide for those in need, and the government has substituted its own poor idea of welfare. Although it is not God's best provision, government welfare is not prohibited by Scripture. However, relying on welfare detracts from a total trust in God for His provision.
The current attitude of the present day church is best recorded in the story of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion” (Luke 10:30-33). If the religious leaders and the religious establishment of Jesus' day had provided the care for the one who was in need that God had mandated, there would have been no need for the Good Samaritan's intervention. So it is today. If the church would fully accept its responsibility to help and to supply assistance to those who are in need, there would be no need for “good Samaritan” organizations or government assistance. However, because the church has “dropped the ball,” the government has had to step in and provide the assistance needed.
It's not that churches are small and don't have the capability to help; church members have money, but other personal as well as church priorities or indebtedness caused by poor handling of their money has diminished their giving on behalf of the needy. This in turn pushes those in need to look for help elsewhere.
Because of the lack of available or specially earmarked benevolent funds or the lack of willingness to help in many churches, the only relief some needy people can find is through government programs. Once the federal government assumed the role of protector and provider for the general public, the role of the church diminished proportionately. As such, in today's society few Americans see the church (and God) as their financial resource in times of need.
The Bible is very clear in both the Old and the New Testaments that we are to help those who are in need. However, biblical welfare not only involves meeting the needs of others, it also tries always to restore the individual to a position of productivity.
Scripture points to several factors that qualify a person to receive “biblical welfare”: (1) poor—those who are unable to meet the most basic needs (see Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Proverbs 19:17); (2) diligent—there are many people who are lazy by nature, and supporting these people is just as unscriptural as not supporting those with legitimate needs. “A worker's appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on.” (Proverbs 16:26); (3) widow—a qualified widow is defined as a woman 60 years old or older whose only husband has died (see 1 Timothy 5:3-10); (4) orphans; (5) those who need immediate care (see James 2:15-16). It does not qualify them as “poor” or “widows” but only as “lacking of the daily food” as a result of illness, imprisonment, or unemployment; and (6) lifestyle—Scripture indicates a moderate lifestyle but not one of poverty. “For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13). The need for food, shelter, and clothing to survive are absolutes, and unfortunately many people in our world are dying because of the lack of these things.
We would like to see Christians involved in helping one another by sharing the abundance God has given them with their church benevolence fund or through parachurch ministries that are helping people. God wants to direct our attention back to the source of all material things—Himself. The only way people in need are ever going to sense God as their source is by God's people coming to their aid. Christianity has failed to comply with one of the most fundamental principles God ever established. “At this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack'” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).
Many churches have established programs to help welfare recipients while the recipients seek to find jobs. Some churches provide financial assistance for rent or child care for a period of time, perhaps a year, during which time the people become established in jobs and gradually become less dependent on the church. One church organization asks its members to fast one day each month and donate to the church benevolent fund the money that they would normally spend on food for that day. Another organization asks its members to donate an amount equal to one hour of wages per week to the church's “needy families account.” Other church organizations ask their professional members, as such dentists, doctors, or mechanics, to volunteer their services at least one hour per month on behalf of the needy. Along with these programs, and dozens more similar to them, the church should also require accountability from the recipient, as well as budget and financial management counseling.
It is important to understand that the existing welfare system in America is largely a failure. The federal government spends a tremendous amount of money on the poverty-stricken, and yet doesn't make any significant progress toward reducing the ranks of the poor.
If we are truly to help people move from poverty to self-sufficiency, we must help them understand that their actions have consequences for themselves, for those who depend on them, and for those who are called on to help. We must realize that our responsibility to assist people in need does not end with checkbook, but we need to be there in person to help in whatever ways we can. We need to encourage our churches to become involved in assisting the needy and then support their efforts with our time and money. We ultimately need to be people who care about people and not pay Washington to do our caring for us