Who Qualifies for Charity?

Who Qualifies for Charity?

On a recent Saturday morning, I was waiting to pick up my son John from a musical practice at church, so I decided to walk around the building for some exercise. While walking, I encountered a man knocking on the front door of the building.

Allow me to describe him to give you a better context of my experience. “Bill” (a pseudonym to protect his identity) is a healthy, white male about 50 years old. He was visibly angry, agitated and seemed ready to explode. Although I was a little frightened by his demeanor, I told him the staff had the day off and politely asked if I could help him.

Bill, who does not have any apparent mental challenges, began ranting about the evil of living in America. He said the country no longer cared for the poor, that everyone was cold and cruel and that even the “church” was not any different. He said he was hungry, had walked six miles to get to a location where he normally had good success asking for money but was tired and did not want to walk another step. He put a large dip of snuff in his mouth and began to tell me of his aches, pains, rejection and bitterness towards “Christians” and “Americans” who just don’t care anymore.

I calmly told him that I would help him. Apparently either my offer to help or the snuff had a positive effect on his attitude—he stopped spewing his anger. About that time my 13-year-old son, John, appeared, signaling it was time to go home. To his surprise, I introduced John to Bill and said the man was going to be riding with us.

We drove Bill to a nearby store. I gave him cash to buy food and waited for him outside. In just a few moments he returned and we proceeded to his desired destination. As we talked, I learned a lot about Bill and so did my son John.

It turns out that Bill is not homeless. In fact, he lives in a hotel. He is also a Christian. It was also obvious that he is intelligent. He told us he was born out of wedlock and has no communication with members of his family. We also learned that he works “about three days a week” when he can find temporary employment, typically doing construction, changing tires on forklifts and other odd jobs as they come available.

Although perfectly able, I got the impression that Bill only works whenever he feels like it or as long as he is able to get along with bosses and co-workers—which severely limits him. His bitter attitude permeates his demeanor.

When we arrived at Bill’s hotel, I surprised him with some additional information.

“Bill, do you know why I bought you food today and drove you back home?”

“No,” he replied.

He was sitting in the backseat of my car when I turned and said, “Bill, I helped you today because I know you.” He didn’t respond and only looked confused.

“Do you remember that I’ve helped you before? You were by our offices asking for help a few months ago. I gave you money then, too.”

He was completely unaware that this was my second encounter with him at an entirely different location.

Bill did not say anything; he just looked at me as I continued.

“Bill, I am a Christian; I go to the church where you were knocking on the door, and I am an American. I hope you see that God has many people who actually do help you.”

Bill began to get out of the car. As he thanked me for the food and the ride, I had one more final thought to share with him.

“Bill, I can help you on occasion, but not over and over again. The next time you ask me for help, I want to help you get a job.”

There was only silence from Bill.

He got out of the car and headed back to his hotel room. All around him were places where he could potentially find work, but it was obvious Bill did not want that kind of help.

Government as Our Provider

In August 2011, the number of people in the U.S. relying on food stamps hit 45.8 million—nearly 15% of the population. Food stamp rolls have risen 8.1% in the past year, the Department of Agriculture reports, though the pace of growth has slowed from the depths of the recession1.

In 2010, the American labor force was made up of approximately 154 million people. That means that for nearly every three workers, we have one person on food stamps—a shocking statistic. Compare the growth of this program from 1969 to 2010 in the chart2 below:

After Bill left my car, John and I had a long talk on the way home. First, I thanked him for his great attitude during the experience with Bill. John had handled himself with love and composure.

We also talked about the importance of work and the devastation that it brings to our lives when we are able—but do not—work. We discussed the crippling effect of an attitude that expects someone else to provide for our needs. We also talked about the verse that came to mind as we considered Bill’s future.

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

Paul is not being cruel or heartless in this passage. He is expressing a truth that those who are able but unwilling to work should be disqualified from receiving charitable help, thereby allowing their natural need for food to drive their effort to work. This is a profound and often overlooked financial principle.

The Bible is very specific about who should and who should not receive charity. This verse also implies that the recipient of the charity should be known by the ones administering the help, those who can provide love, accountability and wisdom, in addition to the financial resources.

This is just one of the many reasons that I don’t believe the Bible supports the position that government be the provider and caretaker of the poor. As with all public policy, if we fail to follow God’s direction, we end up with problems for everyone. That’s why we now have a system of dependence on government for perpetual welfare in many forms that is unsustainable. All the while, many are demanding even more government handouts of one sort or another.

As a friend of mine noted, “Government programs today are into making people comfortable in their poverty instead of helping them get out of their condition.”

Are we—the Church—to love our neighbor and help the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the poor, the prisoner, widows and orphans and those who are sick? Yes.

Are we to do all we can to help those who have lost jobs but are able and willing to get back to work? Yes.

Does that mean we demand that the government use a misguided Robin Hood method to take from the rich to give to the poor?

Not according to the Bible.

Chuck Bentley

What do you think? Please leave your comments below!

1http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/11/01/some-15-of-u-s-uses-food-stamps/
2http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/SNAPsummary.htm

About Chuck Bentley

CEO, Crown Mininstries
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128 Responses to Who Qualifies for Charity?

  1. Thor Toepfer says:

    Thanks Chuck, Forthrightly and compassionately put. And most importantly, biblically sound.
    Thor in YumA, AZ.

  2. Julianne Frankhouser says:

    Thank God for this story! This is so true to all of the generations that were raised in the “system” for government assistances. I currently work with pregnant teens and mothers who truly believe they are supposed to get housing, food and money for free! Its truly sad but I’m dedicated to changing this mindset. I believe God is tired of this and is prompting many Chrisitans to speak out agains this.

  3. Given and it shall be given to you says:

    When the church is not helping the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the poor, the prisoner, widows and orphans and when the church is not helping those who have lost their jobs. Then the Government becomes a viable option to help meet those basic needs. It is funny to hear people say that they want a smaller government but refuse to increase their giving to the poor or increase givng of alms.
    Homelessness is increasing in this country in an alarming rate. Churches are closing the doors due to lack of tithing and funds.
    When you find yourself without income and food stamps is keeping you afloat to feed your family. You thank JEHOVAH for the government and the food stamp system.

    • God owns it all. says:

      I competely agree. I remember a time of hardship when I had to fall back on the government, while standing in line to apply for public aid, I began to cry uncontrollably because I was devastated and felt like a failure to have to rely on the government. My mother helped me to see I had nothing to be ashamed of, we were still standing in the parking lot outside the building when she told me a beautiful story of how my grandmother raised her and her nine siblings on public aid assistantce but back then they were giving away cheese and she use to make the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Today, only two out nine of them are still depending on foodstamps and the other seven work full-time jobs inspite of having never going to college.

      Regarding the article, I thought it was a really good article but I wouldn’t go that far to use that man’s story to attack the government nor other people on public assistance because there are many many factors that contribute to a person having to rely on the government, and I believe one of those reasons are spiritual. Also there are many honest working poor as well as christians on public assistance who depend on the consistency and stability of the government. The poor will always be with us but without government assistance you will have the very poor and hungry. It takes a long time for the average person born into poverty to think his or her way out of poverty.

      • Mom4Christ says:

        What I got from the article and personal experience is that it is all about balance and honoring God with our life. We can honor God by doing what we can do to take care of ourselves and our families. The system is there for temporary needed help, not a lifestyle. Unfortunately, too many people have chosen the government system as a way of life. Where I work we see it every day.Most of the people that chose that way have the ‘you owe me’ mentality. Those that truly are in need are frustrated, scared but yet humble. For me it is hard to keep a soft heart toward those that are taking advantage of everyone while those that truly need help are doing without because of the lack of food to give. The world is rewarding people that should not be rewarded and expecting people that have worked hard and have been wise with their finances to pay for it. This is unacceptable. I was on the system for a short time and was determined to not live on it. Thank God it was there when I needed it and Thank God I did get ‘pulled in’.

  4. Jude Sullivan says:

    This is a great story – thank you for sharing. While on vacation with my wife in Orlando 10 days ago, I paid for a hotel room for a family that had been evicted. I shook the hand of every family member, and spoke with the father for an extended period of time. He told me about his situation and the daily process of going to ManPower hoping there is work that day. Each day was stressful enough as the eviction was preceded by shutting off of home utilities – a law breaking act in that state I am told. However, with no money, they have no way to find adequate representation and are at the mercy of the strained legal process. We prayed together and embraced before I left them – it warmed my heart to feel that I could make a small difference. A week later, I was distressed to find that my credit card had been billed nearly $300 more for hotel stays there. I was NOT prepared for that, and I almost feel guilty assuming that they are responsible for compromising my account as it could’ve been anyone (including hotel staff). I commend you for your willingness to share your story, and more importantly your perspective. If I could, I would like to repost it on my blog. Thanks for considering…

  5. Sharon Miller says:

    Chuck,
    I see this all the time as I work for a State Agency serving the public, helping them to find jobs.. hopefully.. but since I work with those who have disabilities only, some of these are good honest people very ashamed at having to apply for help and they want to work. Yet, I see the other side of this coin. We get repeat clients, having landed minimum wage jobs, often the best they can do with cases of mental retardation, etc. not able to fiancially support their daily lives. – What should the church do? Yes, I pass the guy on the street with the cup.. he changes corners daily.. then I also see the scammers we know to be former clients out begging at WalMart asking for funds for the “poor children” – knowing full well that after they gather the money the use it for themselves.
    What is the church to do?? We are getting so many following the circuit.. from church to church, food bank to food ministry.. always there for a handout.. not a hand up..
    I’m humbled at the vet who suffers from wounds in the war and needs our help now.. I’m humbled at the kid that has now become an adult who is living in a foster home after being tormented and broken.. now he knows how to break others and I would be able to trust him to work around my kids.. What is the church to do???
    Truthfully, I’m retiring now, going to take my husband’s social security benefits because he has gone to be with Jesus after serving our Nation.. A Vietnam Vet who died of cancer caused by Agent Orange.. I have kids.. they are grown.. so I guess I’m not considered a true widow by some since I have children.. But.. DARN.. I need that Social Security.. Both my husband and I paid into the system.. and worked all our lives to help our Nation.. I’m serving now, but I’m tired.. I feel like working for the Government is like handing out a bunch of empty promises to clients..
    What is the church to do???? Maybe, I’ll just stay home, watch TV and collect Social Security .. even if it means a big pay cut.. I’m out of answers.. Sincerely Yours

    • martha says:

      Sharon, I feel your frustration. I am on the church side of helping the public find jobs, get stability and a sense of hope in the future. It is not easy. I am learning not to judge others by their mistakes or their situations. I am learning to have patience and to hold my tongue when I just want to shake them. Some days I feel like why bother. Then, I meet a man that says he realizes once he let go of God, all the bad things started happening in his life. He wants to get back in touch with God. His face is beaming with joy as I tell him God never let go of him. God wants to hear from him. God loves all of us. This rare jewel of a man is the reason that I keep trying.

  6. sylvia marques says:

    Me I my husband agree. Government does inable the people I was on Government assistance and when I was a single month with 3 children, I took advantage of the schooling and childcare. which pushed me in a direction to be a provider for my family. I felt so good about myself, I think the government should give a time limit on how long aid will be provide.

    • Sharon Miller says:

      I agree with you.. maybe a time limit would help, or perhaps a limitation to the number of times someone can apply, but it’s like taxes.. where do we draw the line.. are there exceptional circumstances to the rules? Silvia, I find your answer refreshing.. Way to go girl!! you used the tools God put into your hands, be they only schooling and childcare.. you took the tools and made a difference for yourself and your family. Jesus made the difference in your life, I’m sure.. but this is a good testimony of determination and we need your example to remind us to keep on striving for the best we can do.

  7. Dolly says:

    I agree with you on this issue 100%. I volunteer at our local Pregnancy Care center and I see a lot of the entitlement mentality in these people as well. Those who cannot take care of themselves because they would rather collect our tax dollars are bringing us down so fast it isn’t funny. But in reality it isn’t really their fault because our government makes it easy for them to be lazy. I also have a pet peeve at all the illegal mexicans being able to collect our social benefits just by stepping over the boarder. No wonder we are in such dire straights. I will share this message with my family and friends as I feel sure that all of us who are struggeling to keep our heads above water today will agree with you. I am so thankful that our God promises to take care of us, food, clothing and shelter. He has never let me down and I have been unemployed at least 6 times in the past 13 years. May God richly bless your ministry.
    Dolly

  8. fje says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU… you have eloquently put into words what my spirit has felt for years. I am a teacher and offer free tutoring for some inner city girls weekly (for 4 years). I have never seen their mothers work and don’t know where the fathers are. They live off the US governments money (food stamps and project housing) and they continue to have kids. I was wondering why their mothers “never working” has bothered me so much. Now I know.

  9. Carol says:

    As a follower of Christ, this has been a struggle for us as individuals and as a church body. We have seen so many people that come for the “fishes and loaves” instead of coming for Christ. Thank you o oaddressing this matter from a biblical viewpoint. I share with the youth I teach that work was given to man before sin(the fall). God knows that we are not complete or in His image if we are not workers. He is a working, productive God, and to be fulfilled and more like Him we need to be productive. Again, Amen and thank you for your insight, input and for reminding “Bill” about his part in the equation.

  10. Who qualifies for grace? Imagine Jesus asking Lazurus for his 6 month diet and exercise program before he called him out of the tomb. Go find this guy and help him get the job he needs NOW, not next time. Of course there is balance, but what do you do when there are no jobs? The real issue, Chuck, is the model we have for church is broken, our churches are in debt, and the little we do have left over to help others has to be tightly controlled. That’s why people are going to the government for help. It’s also why we have a cry for justice in the streets of NYC because the government will bail out the banks, but let the banks take the homes of the people.

  11. Thanks for the story! I have been waiting for someone to write as succinctly, passionately and biblically about how we should understand the realities our present econimic situation and what we might be able, as Christians, to do to help.

    Pastor Marc Murchison

    • Mark says:

      Dear Pastor Marc,
      I will pick on you because you signed as a Pastor. I have seen (and I see another post from someone who seems to have the same idea) that the church (as an institution) is apathetic, in-grown and downright selfish. The people within this institution are not necessarily so, however. I will ask you a question: how do you think the church as an institution, as a whole, could create programs to reach out to the needy, not only locally, but in a large scale, national level? We should come up with some ideas. The United States Federal Government has taken upon itself to do what the Church should have been doing. The Church left a vacuum and it was filled by the government. These welfare programs are not the role of government. If the Church would have been doing these things, God Himself would be more respected in this country, and the government would not have over-stepped into the area of aiding the poor. With all due respect, Pastor, you who preach about Jesus feeding the 5,000: Jesus told his disciples, “you give them something to eat”. Move the church to do what she is called to do and trust God to multiply. I know HE WILL!

      • Bill says:

        Mark,
        Is it as you say, or did the Government push the church out of the provision business? There are those who think that if a job is not centrally planned and executed at the Federal level, it’s not getting done. There are also “Christians” who believe that coerced or tax-supported government social programs relieve them of the obligation of private charity. Those people will accrue tasks and power to the government no matter how well the job is being done by a patchwork of private individuals and organizations. That approach rankles their sense of proportion.

        I read somewhere that by 1900 70% of the population of Britain had private health insurance. Yet, in 1948 (if memory serves) the Labour Party put the entire country under the monstrous national (free!?) health-care plan. The government forced or squeezed the private insurance carrier out of the market.

        Please read “The American Tradition” by Clarence Carson to see how America worked before the centralization that was enabled by the Federal Reserve System and the Income Tax.

      • Minnesota Dave says:

        I work with churches all around the country. I am seeing a growing speed of resurgence of the understanding of the Church’s call to ministry to poor, the widow, the needy. Let’s be careful not to “throw all churches under the wagon” in saying they aren’t doing what Christ called them, the Church (capital C) to do. Because many are doing just that, and doing with well, and have found a balance between just catching the fish for the poor and teaching them to fish.

  12. Sarah says:

    Food stamps for 15%, but WIC currently serves 45% of all babies born in the United States.
    http://www.faqs.org/nutrition/Smi-Z/WIC-Program.html
    In some states it is over 50%. Half the babies in the USA are born into situations where there is not enough for them, where the arms that receive them depend on the government to feed the baby.

  13. Aaron says:

    Instead of criticizing the government for providing assistance that you deem ineffective, you should BLAST the church for being an in-grown, apathetic, and downright selfish institution as a whole in our society. I am so tired of hearing Christians criticize the government and how it helps people. I work for a non-profit and federally funded agency that helps refugees re-settle here and become self-sufficient, and we have to practically BEG the churches to help us help them. If it was not for our organization and the GOVERNMENT’S funding, these people would homeless and jobless by the thousands. This blog post is an over simplification of the issue and the role of government and the church to serve the poor.

    • Mark says:

      I think that as an institution the Church is exactly as you have stated here Aaron, in-grown, apathetic and downright selfish. However, within this selfish, in-grown, apathetic institution there are many, many who are not selfish, in-grown or apathetic. I worked on the mission field for nearly 20 years and was supported almost 100% by people within the churches, but the church organization as a whole has very little interest in helping anything other than what the church leadership can control. Having said that, I must say that if the church as an institution were doing what the government has been doing it would have a MUCH better outcome. It is because the government is too far from the people. The Church, on the other hand, is closer to the people it would help. I agree that this article over simplifies the question, however one must admit that it is not the role of government to serve the poor, that is the role of the Church. Good post!

    • Bill says:

      Aaron,
      But this guy was healthy, intelligent, and he could walked six miles to get to a place where the begging was profitable. That’s a 12-mile round trip – four hours at three miles per hour. On top of that, he had money for tobacco. Perhaps all the churches he had been to for help had figured out that he was able to help himself, that he didn’t want to, and they finally cut him off – reserving their funds for the truly needy. It made him angry when the gravy train dried up. Therefore, his rant against “the church”.

      A woman showed up at our church with a tale of woe. She lived with her mother. We gave her some money and a ride home. As it turned out, she lived in a nice house of 1500 to 1700 square feet. On the way, she asked if her ride would stop at a grocery store so she could get some things.

      When she came out she had a couple of two- liter bottles of soda and a celebrity-gossip magazine. It appears, talking with other pastors who had been targeted by that same lady, that she had a list of churches that she called for help. She would rotate around to each one every six months or so. Apparently, her strategy was that each pastor would think that she was asking for help only when she really needed it. Are you cold-hearted if you stop helping a person like that?

      My church (Baptist) is building an orphanage at the point where the Nile river exits Lake Victoria. We support a church in the Nairobi slum of Kibera and that church’s feeding program. Locally, we support Church Under the Bridge that feeds and preaches the gospel to the homeless. We also support several local missions including one that teaches typing and other computer skills with the goal of making the students employable in today’s world. There was help resettling evacuees after Hurricane Katrina. And probably many more charitable activities that are unknown to me.

      On the invisible side, what about the things that never happen? Girls that didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock. Children who grew up to be productive citizens rather than thieves, robbers, and drug dealers. Men who take care of their families because the Apostle Paul told them to rather than abandoning them to the tender mercies of poverty.

      Look at the whole picture when you talk about the church’s care role in the community. Because they aren’t involved with your favorite program doesn’t mean that they are not doing anything. It may be that you simply don’t know what they are doing that is good, helpful, and admirable in the eyes of the Lord.

    • Minnesota Dave says:

      Okay, let’s not just blast churches here. I work with churches all around the country and I am seeing a growing understanding of the need for the hands/feet of the gospel – helping the poor needy. IF, IF, IF the govt hadn’t moved to become the enabler so readily I think churches would have earlier stepped up. I think it’s taken the current concern over government’s role and spending that has “allowed” the church to sit back and watch. But again, I’m seeing more and more churches come to understand that part of their call to ministry.

      • It is amazing how we give a free pass to beggars with M Divs., while tell those without M. Divs, “you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Maybe the good pastors need to roll up their sleeves too. How much of the average funds of church budgets make it to Kingdom expansion outside of the U.S.? 2.5%! I think Mark is pretty safe in saying churches are ingrown, apathetic, and selfish. Follow the Money!

      • Jennifer says:

        While I totally agree with you that churches should be “tithing” at LEAST 10% of their income to ministries outside their own church, I think your theology in calling pastors “beggars” is off. Paul was very clear when he said the worker is worth his wages and don’t muzzle the ox. Just because a pastor is not working with his hands does not mean he is not working. And no, I am not a pastor and am not related to any, but I have seen how many hours a week they work and I think calling them beggars is uncalled for, not to mention just plain false.

      • Jennifer,

        I actually don’t think anyone should be under the yoke of tithing. Tithing is old testament law. If we really wanted to honor it we would do 33% like they did. The tithe did not come about in the early church until Constantine needed to fund his massive building campaign.

        I hardly believe that New Testament passages can justify the rich salaries that most of our pastors get. When Paul served in Corinth, he took great pride in not taking anything from them. Why? Because he didn’t want it to hinder the Gospel. Corinth was a materialistic city full of “snake oil” salesmen and he didn’t want to be seen that way. Materialistic culture full of “snake oil” salesmen sounds like another current culture I know of. When it states that an elder is worthy of “double honor,” this is akin to an honorarium. Compare how many verses there are to support a paid pastor vs how many there are for caring for the poor.

        The pastor/clergy distinction is harmful, and until the body of Christ sees it as their responsibility to go and make disciples rather than relegating the duty to a paid professional, the church will continue to deteriorate.

      • I say my comments, respectfully.

  14. Joseph Washburn says:

    Thank you for the information of how God provides and we can help. I also believe that when a person can work (regardless of the amount of pay) and refuses because he feels it is too little for his work then let him provide a job for himself and even others if he has the knowledge, forethought and desire to see that he is to be thy brother’s keeper as well. I know some people are not physically able to work and we should help those. As one Wall Street sitter stated he was a college graduate and was offered a job at $30,000 a year but he was not about to work for that small amount. I feel he should just go out and enjoy himself and pay himself what he thinks he is worth. We cannot allow the government to continue to rob those willing to work just to help those who will not. The government does a lousy job of monitoring the money that tax payers give so why do we want to continue to give more. Politicians need to go back to the course of making sure they are serving their people.

  15. Jennifer says:

    I have lived below the poverty level for 2 of the last 5 years with 3 and 4 kids (had one more during that time). We finally did ask for some help at a local, privately owned food pantry. It was amazing the mentality we encountered there. A vast majority of the people had nice cars (one even had a Mercedes SUV), cell phones/bluetooth and were smoking expensive cigarettes. Yet many if not most of them were not even looking for work and instead stood around discussing where and how to get the best government and charitable handouts. Yes, really. We did NOT ask for government help, even though we qualified for it. We prayed and felt that God was telling us we were not to accept “help” that was taken from others by force from the government. With my husband working 2 jobs and many more than 40 hours a week, including creating his own job/business, we are finally at a place where we are slightly more comfortable, although we still live below the standard in which many of those people were living.
    I understand that the economy is tough right now, but really, it’s tough when you are faithful with your resources, even continuing to tithe when you can’t feed your own family, to watch as people living off the government have larger homes, nicer things, and feel they are “owed” more and are still not satisfied. And it’s tough to watch those same people whose homes you’ve been in and grocery store receipts you’ve seen (purchased with food stamps, of course) ask your church for help with the money you tithed, not because they don’t have enough (remember, I knew what they were bringing in from their govt. checks) because they can’t or won’t budget, even when I had offered help teaching them.
    We continue to tithe, as we understand that our rewards are not in this world. We continue to help those who are willing to work and learn, but enabling people to continue their irresponsibility and entitlement mentality is not “charity” in the true sense of the word, “love.” It is truly selfishness, only keeping us from having to deal with the discomfort of confronting them with their sin or the work of actually building a relationship with them and teaching them how to become “adults”. True charity is sometimes allowing them to harvest God’s consequences and learn the lessons that God is trying to teach them. Perhaps He is trying to bring them to Him through their circumstances and we are getting in the way by helping them to be comfortable in their sin.

    • Jill says:

      Amen Sister! May God bless you for your obedience and faithfulness to His ways. May God continue to strengthen & provide for you as your family serves as role models for others in your same situation.

  16. Paul says:

    Great Job on this explanation. The last several emails have been filled with great Biblical insight!

  17. Joe Schwer says:

    This is a good message. I have been dealing with my choice to help and realize that helping may feed the behavior that causes the situations people are in. Any rescue from the consequences of the choices people make is counter productive while I know I must have a heart and be compassionate. Is it wrong to be 100% empathetic and 0% compassionate?

  18. Richard Bruer says:

    Thanks, Chuck, for a very well written article. I actually forwarded this to our kids (don’t know if they’ll really read it or not), because it was such a nice augmentation to the discussion we had the other night as a sidebar to I John 3:17 — in which we talked about helping those in NEED, the distinction between want and need, looking closely at who and how ministries help people before financially supporting them, etc.

  19. Emmanuel Rego says:

    Thanks,
    Excellent summary of the God’s word and plans.

    Emmanuel Rego

  20. Scott says:

    Chuck, thank you. As one who works for a church, it is refreshing to hear this verse spoken out. Just today, our church received another request for help with rent. When I inquired further, I found that the person did not have a job, but was “trusting GOD to take care of their needs”. Yes, GOD can and will take care of us and in ways that we can’t even imagine. However, His word gives us direction to the way that we should respond…it’s time to get back to work…even if that means 15 hours a week at the local fast-food chain.

    Thank you, Chuck. Your posts are helpful and timely.

  21. liz says:

    Thank You soooooooo much. I sometimes have felt bad when people ask me for money on the street and i did not give them any money. I want to give and help others, but I want to make sure it really for those in need. Those who are having issues to find jobs and keep a home.

    • Jill says:

      I live in a city in the midwest of about 400,000. Our local Christian homeless shelter has statistics that 98% of those asking for $ on our streets are not homeless. That 98% make a living this way instead of working for it. That statistic shocked me. They advised that instead of giving them $, offer to get them to the homeless shelter where they are equipped to handle their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

      • Jacob says:

        I live in the midwest also, and had a friend I worked with telling me he saw one of these fellows standing outside with a sign “will work for food”. My friend being a kind hearted gentlemen offered this man 8 dollars an hour and three meals fully paid if he would come and help him do odd jobs around his house. The guy cussed him out, called him stupid, and said he brings home around 400 dollars a day by standing and holding that sign. It’s a very sad state of affairs, if you ask me.

      • Jennifer says:

        Only $400 a day? Well, it is the Midwest. My brother took one of those guys out for lunch and was crassly told that he only accepted the lunch since he was about to take a break anyway. The guy said he pulls in over 6 figures annually holding that sign, but that was in California.

      • Kelly says:

        At just $400 a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, it’s 6 figures.

  22. Awaiting.... says:

    I agree with your comment, but the situation isn’t black and white. There’s a whole lot of grey area. Is the church prepared to step in and help those who are currently on assistance? Will this bring more people to Christ or will it be a financial burden? Given the current econimic state, how long will people need assistance? There are plenty of Christian folks who are feeling the effects of economy and are unable to give. Will the few who do give be expected to give more? Yes, those who are on assistance believe they are entitled to the benefits. What is the answer to that? Limited, short term help? What happens after that. Given the job rate, there aren’t enough jobs to support all of the unemployed. There never will be. More and more people are becoming secular and the name of the Lord is being banished. Although we’d like to solve this problem, it may be where we’re heading – toward the end of times.

    • Kelly says:

      How about the church helps by teaching them a skill and/or employing them at the church? I realize not all churches would be capable of this, but it might go a long way in turning around the entitlement mentaility. I know of a church in Phoenix that doesn’t just give money away when someone comes looking for help-everyone has to do something to earn their pay. I think it’s a great idea! They also don’t allow members to just show up on Sunday-everyone is involved in serving in some manner.

  23. daleglasgow says:

    This is a very good set of wisdom.
    I would add that the poor are always with us as Jesus stated in the Gospels. The “least of these need help” all the time, bless you for stepping in to be a leader and minister. I have found that even in these situations, we are able to help because God has enabled us to work and help the poor and needy. In many situations it takes years before a poor person can stand on their feet–having childrern who are dependent on the parent. Then the attacks fo satan keep them in the lowest of low, where we as the church must step in to be their minister.

  24. Dave says:

    The Bible is clearly our only source of truth that we can rely on for what to do in difficult circumstances. Thank you for sharing Paul’s words. They ring true today as they did then.

  25. Michelle says:

    Some of these responses seem rather heartless from a church who follow a loving God.
    Did it occur to some.. that mothers who stay home with their children DO work? Not from 9-5, but on call 24-7. They just don’t get paid. Should they go to work and send their children off for someone else to raise, by someone who doesn’t really care and is just getting a paycheck? Someone who has different values?
    Most of the people I know who are on Foodstamps do work, 40 hours a week. The people I know who do have a job, are not allowed overtime and would gladly work more hours for it.
    The wages of employees are mostly the same as they were 20 years ago. The cost of living has tripled. They must pay for childcare, gas, car maintenance and mandatory car insurance, registration etc. to work. Keep in mind that public transportation does not exist or do not fully reach some areas.
    Maybe SOME people take, use the system and don’t want to work. But I am sure this is not the majority. To group all into a lazy mentality because they need assistance is cruel. I am sure they must thank God for Foodstamps. Maybe they are praying on a daily basis for God to help them. Unless you know every individuals situation I would not judge them or look down on them, or demand the system changes, while banks get bailouts, CEO’s get raises, and we send money to other other countries instead of helping our own first.
    Maybe we should cut unneeded funding to useless space programs. Why not greatly raise taxes on alcohol? It is destroyiong families on a daily basis. Unlike food and healthcare, it is not needed to survive.

    • Jill says:

      I see your perspective clearly, and agree there are definately those who are “trying” to make it work. I think this is where knowing who you’re providing assistance for and having some accountability in place is how one would distinguish between those who are “trying” and those who are taking advantage of the system. As Chuck said, “This verse also implies that the recipient of the charity should be known by the ones administering the help, those who can provide love, accountability and wisdom, in addition to the financial resources.”

  26. Tom says:

    I agree with you 100%. But, I have a possibly related, but different question: Is it ever a good idea for a church to make a loan to someone within the church or to a staff person in the church?

    • Bill says:

      Tom,
      No. It’s never a good idea – unless:
      1. You want to find out more about that person’s character than you wanted to know.
      2. You are prepared to go to the lengths it might take to collect the debt. In this case the borrower will try to make the church the bad guy to everyone who will listen.
      3. In the case of an employee, you can deduct the loan from their pay in installments. Even then, they might not hang around long enough to pay it all off.
      4. “The borrower is slave to the lender.” Does the church really want to be slave-master over anyone?

      Never lend to a relative (not even one of your own children) or a friend. Never co-sign a note for someone (Proverbs warns against becoming surety several times). See items 1 & 2 above. In addition, do you really want to be in the position of having to repo that car you co-signed for with your daughter? Do yu want to just let her slide?

      Give the money as a gift outright or help them get a job. Help them budget. Help them pay with their own cash savings for whatever it is that they need.

      Requiring someone to save up and pay with their own money is the best way I know to downgrade a lot of “needs” to mere “wants”.

  27. Jim Jardine says:

    I so agree with you. As a young man I was what they called a bleeding heart liberal. I believed
    in all the social programs and thought as a Christian I needed to care and support people who
    were in need. But after working my whole life, being handycapped myself, and trying all along to help those in need I see now that some wouldn’t work no matter what. I told a girl that worked for me that if her husband wouldn’t work he shoudn’t eat. she found him many jobs but he woudn’t
    keep them. They were very young at the time. They went on to have three children. he still doesn’t
    work regularly.

  28. Mike ONeal says:

    Chuck – what a great story and a Life Lesson – “Hand-Up”, not a Hand-Out

  29. Anne says:

    Thanks for your article. I think it is very biblically sound and well-stated. Of course we are to help those in need, but each of us needs to be willing to help ourselves as much as we are able. Who ever truly succeeds when they’re fault-finding grumps that don’t want to do everything in their power to change their situation? Yes, there is ample amount of greed and blame to spread around in America, but ultimately, we’re dependent on God for our daily bread and other needs, and He tells us plainly in the Bible we’re not be be lazy.

  30. Merold Yates says:

    Right on Chuck! Aside from God’s direct intervention, what do you think has to happen to turn this circumstance around?

  31. CC says:

    Who doesn’t qualify for charity?

    I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Bentley’s thoughtful and honest reflection on this very important topic that impacts so many of us. I want to try to push the conversation a little bit in order to encourage a continued dialogue on what we can do within this broken system by illustrating the “other side” with a personal story.

    I am 27 and studying mathematics at one of our country’s Research I Universities. I have been a National Science Foundation graduate fellow, co/authored peer reviewed papers, even been recognized by the undergraduate research council for one of my talks, awarded for excellence in teaching on several occasions, and plan to be involved in undergraduate teacher preparation in mathematics. I say all of this only to establish (I hope) that I am not a drain on society but want to continue making contributions.

    Nearly 10 years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease that, without treatment, results in significant physical impairment and potentially death. As of November 1st I find myself uninsured for the first time in my life. Why? I maxed out lifetime benefit of my student insurance plan in two years, individual health coverage (premiums, together with out of pocket expenses) is unaffordable on a graduate student salary, and that same salary disqualifies me from state Medicaid. I am faced with choices no person should have to make, though many do:

    Do I continue to work in exchange for tuition benefits and deteriorated health? My less than stellar health will likely impact my ability to work and complete my degree.

    OR

    Do I sacrifice my income to qualify for state healthcare? Now I’m healthy, but can I survive on approximately $900/month and pay the extra costs of tuition when I lose my tuition benefits?

    I could say that I will be dropping out of school in the spring but I plan to be a productive and contributing member of society. I’ve been preparing for this possibility and I’m willing to make the sacrifices I need to in order to stay in school and finish my degree. I’ll do what it takes. I am seeking and exploring the alternative resources for treatment assistance and other health coverage options. I am also fortunate to work in a department that is highly supportive and willing to help find scholarships to cover my tuition.

    This brings me to my last point. I think it is kind of unfair to say that the church is not following God’s example of grace, which is freely given, if we have to turn away those who would take advantage because there are fundamental differences between what we have and God has to offer. God offers grace, and if it is accepted, He freely gives us life. We surrender our life of selfishness in exchange for the life of Jesus Christ, who lives for others. You could try to argue that we don’t have to give up anything, but the Bible is clear, we can only live one life. We can only serve one master in that life, God or self. Through accepting His graceful gift of new life, we are fundamentally changed in our desire to be self-serving; we are transformed and our awareness is awakened to needs of others. When *we* give to others, however, while we do have the opportunity to share God’s gift of life and love, accepting your money, your food, your charity, does not mean that person has accepted the love that it symbolizes. I think it means that sometimes we might need to show God’s love in other ways – like Mr. Bentley shared today.

    So what I wonder is – what can we do? Should we wait for those in need to come to us? Or do we use our positions and the resources God has blessed us (as individuals and as churches) with to help others where we see a need? Are you the dean that will help find tuition scholarships for the graduate student who wants to finish but can’t afford it? Do you see the person who needs a place to stay for a night? The person who just needs a chance? Only God can see the heart and the motivations, but we can get a glimpse into the character of a person when we get to *know* them. Mr. Bentley observed a pattern of behavior that suggested he must show God’s love to Bill by encouraging him to take responsibility. Thank you, Mr. Bentley, for reminding us that we need to get to know others, that we need to get to know their needs, and that in everything we need to show God’s love.

  32. Joe Chaffee says:

    I really appreciated this column. It Our church opened a food pantry (AKA: Food Bank) in April of 2011. We are a fairly affluent surburban community of San Diego where, until getting involved, I was completely obvious to any hunger needs in our local community. The first month we served approximately 45 households for the entire month. Most where migrate workers and a few families who had been out of work due to the economy. After that first month things changed dramatically; We are now supplyling food for over 200 households a week and these families comprised the full demographics of our region. It costs approximately $2,000 per month to operate the service and this comes primarily through donations from our small but faithful congregation.
    I became more involved in the operations of the pantry after the first couple of months. There truly is a need for food and additional items for many of the recipients to make it through each and every month.
    I had an incident yesterday while we were distributing groceries that caused me to think about how we were operating and whether we were being good stewards of God’s supplies. In the morning we have 75-100 individuals waiting in line when we open our doors at 9AM. I get there early and make coffee or drinks for those waiting, bring chairs out to the disabled and elderly so they don’t have to stand for the hour they wait until we open. There was a very elderly lady in line about 10 persons back from the front of the line (the first gentlemen in line every week arrives at 6:00. He is confined to a wheel chair and arrives early so he can get back to take care of his homebound wife). I knew if she was in that position she probably arrived around 7:30AM. I spent some time talking to her. She said she only comes every other week as she did not want to burden us too much. I encouraged her to come every week as this was our policy to allow weekly distributions. She just smiled and we continued to chat for a minute and I moved on through the line. Once the doors opened, people sign in and then wait to go through our fresh food area. These little lady came up to me after registering and quietly aske dme to tale something from her hand. I looked down and she was giving a cash donation to the church to help support the food bank and meet the needs of others. I almost lost it right there. This generous women had the desire to help even though her needs were great.
    Now back to the other recipients of the service; After months of getting to know many of the people that utilize the service, I’ve reached an opinion (Not based on fact but only my personal observation) that approximately 20% of the people work the system. They understand all the ins and outs of these services and which days who is distributing where. They make a circuit where 4 to 5 days a week they are getting free food from various food banks and using their own money for other things (I will assume innocence for now). Our current volunteer schedule has a group of people mainly church members who work either an AM or PM shift. We distribute from 9-noon and then again from 1-4 on Wednesdays. The lady who registers the AM shift assisted yesterday for the PM shift also. In the first 25 recipients coming through for the PM shift yesterday, 3 had went through the line in the AM under a different name. All had excuses but I had them leave their bags and told them not to do it again.
    After seeing this woman give from her lack, I feel an obligation to do better at managing the 20% that abuse the service. Previously, I would say, “God will sort it out” and not worry about who took advantage of the system. Today I feel He holds me responsible for managing it wisely.
    My solution to the problem is simple; I ordered a biometric system today so the registration process is not only simplified but also we now have a level of accountability in place.

  33. Sadly, the government programs that were intended to help the needy to become independent often have just the opposite effect; creating a culture of dependence and a feeling of entitlement such as was displayed by “Bill”. Further still, as the government workers’ livelihood depends upon the continuation, even growth of these programs, there is no genuine incentive to ever lead people to self-sufficiency and independence. There is even a political agenda for those who “defend” these programs, at taxpayer expense. Unscrupulous “leaders” treat such programs as spoils of the battle and bear no shame in the expansion of the culture of poverty these programs create.

  34. Glen says:

    I felt compelled to reply. This is a moving story. Those who feel they are owed something from their fellow man should read and consider this story. I am 43 years old and I grew up in rural Ohio. I learned early from my parents that if you want something you have to work for it. We had many rough days trying to work our 90 acre farm. My parents made payments on the farm for 30 years. We worked constantly.. One winter we spent it without electricity after my dad was layed off from his other job (factory worker and a farmer). The church offered us some food as the community must have noticed our plight. My dad turned them away and I remember him telling them thank you but no thanks. The church was doing their part but dad made a good point- we were not hungry because we hunted food and we grew large gardens during the summer and canned all our food. We never had one hunger pain growing up but it took the whole family to tighten our belt and work out of our poverty. I feel unemployment benefits are also a form of welfare which I do not agree with except for when someone is unable to work. God has blessed me for my hard work. I believe in tithing and I believe we should help our families first. I pray our culture changes but it may take a real American depression to bring about a real change. Thank God for our government but we don’t need as much as we have and America has become spoiled. Government is not our savior and the only single person who can truly bring about change is Jesus Christ. The man in the story may be a christian but even Christians can become lazy. I say hunger and poverty will bring people closer to God and didn’t God promise to care for us even more than the sparrow which has nothing but that which is provided by God. God Bless America but let us all work by the sweat of our brows. Be embolded by God’s promises.

  35. Jermaine says:

    Well said. While there are still some legitimate government programs, they only work if used as a ‘help up’ and not a ‘hand out’. Thanks for your thoughtful insight.

  36. Roy Stacey says:

    Dear Chuck-
    Yes there ARE the needy among us today. There were in Jesus’day as well. They had no government to help them did they? I deare say, they had no churches, certainly not the wide variety of churchers, mosques, and synogoges available in the US today. There are the truly needy, the handicapped physically mentally, empotionally out there. There are the unemployed, some now for quite a long time in this depression. I live in WI and locally some have been unemployed longer than unemployment covers. There are few jobs of ANY quality. Those that could have moved to fine employment, others thaken lower paying jobs often part time with no benefits. Each story is different. I am happy to say I am emplyed full time at a great job which I have been blessed with for over 24 years. I have no “special talents” and have been handicapped by a stroke for over 16 years, but thankfully I can still perform my job.
    I also have no ability to discern the faker fromn the truely needy. I am not there at the church food pantry to see who asks for help. Maybe, seeing the same face time and again, one needs to learn their story, if they aren’t willing to share it, then maybe the help diminishes. It must be great to be able to tell an attitude by a single conversation. We should meet sometime, you would never get it right.
    I pay my taxes, the lowest rate in over 50 years-I should add. I expect BOTH my tithe, and my taxes to be used for those less fortunate. I can’t say which institution I would trust more the government, or the churches to properly administer help to the needy. Both are not faultless.
    I do not like programs that encourage unwed mothers to have and, keep their kids. That only fosters dependency, and an entitlement mentality. Kids are VERY expensive, and you only get one chance to bring them up the right way. I believe in abortion, but would prefer eliminating the reckless practices that lead to an unwanted, or unplanned pregnancy. If you love the fetus, you best want to love and nurtue the kid -no matter what, or how long that takes. Let’s try to make getting jknocked up for profit much less appealing as a life style choice. It IS a choice after all.
    Reckless lending, and reckless borrowing have left its mark on both the bankers (our money to bail out their (deleted), and the borrowers in foreclosure, or with student loan debt, or other debt they can’t-or will not- repay. TOO BAD there. Had we had a President back in 2008 who said N/O to bailouts, things would have been different. Perhaps a lot worse….perhaps a healing economy by now after all the bad debt had been purged. This is still not over as we just transferred the pain and the obligation to repay it all onto our Federal Government. A severe lack of consumer credit probably wouldn’t hurt this economy too much. I hate debt! I don’t have any these days. It takes hard work, and a good budget to get out of debt, and stay out. Rarely taught, even more rare to understand the cycle.
    Well, getting ready to retire in Dec. have a decent 401K and social security awaiting. How long our broke gummint can pay its promises, is an unknown. We ARE all in this together, ask Greece, or Italy if that is not true. Don’t depend on government, or the church. Both are institutions of men, and have feet of clay. Depend on yourself, your creator, your redeemer first, men second.
    Get ready for much higher taxes ahead, and a more expensive cost of living. There is no free lunch, and the needy will be more numerous.

  37. Ramone says:

    I think one of the reasons some people abuse from public help, is because there is no “teaching in how to fish”, instead, we have only “gave them the fish” that some body else cought; so people they learn to “live” in poverty expecting the rich or those who have, to give them what they lack of. Goverment, private sectors and non profit organizations should develop or learn strategies to help the people so they can “fish on their own” and when fishing is not as good as other times, then we can all help those going through difficulty. God sent his son Jesus to teach us a new way, to teach us new strategies; during his earthly ministry everything the disciples had, but he told them that after he was gone, the Holy Ghost would be sent to guide us in life…he tought and made disciples to continue his ministry…I think we need to do the same thing. Teach and train or make disciples so they can get what they need and want if possible…just a thought.

  38. Shirley says:

    Hurrah! Thank you Chuck for so clearly expressing an alarming and growing consumption of government dependence. Having traveled to many areas of this great country it bothers me greatly to see people with their placards asking for money; when what they really need and want is to get back on their feet. If they REALLY wanted money to buy their needs WHY aren’t they getting a real job?
    As a single mother for 10 years I solely provided for myself and my 3 children by working 3 jobs, NOT with government assistance! There is work for those who truly want to work….just make up your mind and determine to do whatever it takes to do it!
    Shirley

  39. Faye White says:

    Unfortunately, the government is not the only culprit in this matter. Decades ago, when evangelicals had the opportunity, they could have helped people from all races and all walks of life avoid dependency on the government. For example, the evangelicals had their backs turned to those of us of color and to our churches; employers determined people of color could not be competitive in the mainstream workforce, so we end up with a welfare system that led to a cycle of dependency by generation after generation of women. The vicious cycle continues. Poverty is something that will be with us forever. We do not need the government nor the Church mishandling poverty matters because it unnecessarily complicates lives for decades. I apologize if I offend someone with my post, but I felt it necessary to make a point with my understanding of history. Thanks to Chuck for giving food for thought and allowing feedback on the matter.

    • Judith says:

      Don’t you think it’s wrong to blame the churches & govt for the “cycle of dependency by generation after generation of women” when it’s the women who continue to fuel the situation by pursuing relationships with men who either won’t (or can’t) support them & their offspring? That must be a painful reminder to a man that he is unable to provide, and I agree….that is society’s fault. But, shouldn’t these women also learn that “choices” have consequences? Shouldn’t they receive a smaller piece of pie than someone who has sacrificed their “own” desires for the benefit of everyone else?

  40. Jim Poulos says:

    The verse used, 2 Thess. 3:10, is instructions giving to believers to a local church. This is to put perspective on this article. Much of the Church has lost its way in its responsiblitity to discipline its own ‘members’ (emphasis members). Those outside the Local Church are simply under God’s Judgement and by grace might respond to that judgement and find their need to be in a local Church. Every member of a local church should embrace the truth they are in the church to mature as believers. All believers should be concerned about their brothers and sisters in their local chuch, that they are maturing. The Gov’t, lacking spiritual decernment, works hard to soften God’s Judgement on those outside the Church. A judgment that would bring more people to repentence and into local churches to become salt to this dark world.

  41. William Harry says:

    You said: Does that mean we demand that the government use a misguided Robin Hood method to take from the rich to give to the poor?. No, we don’t expect government to play Robin Hood, but there is a biblical role for government to play in keeping the inequality from becoming too great. The principle of Sabbatical Year, wherein all debts are released (Deut. 15:2). That has to be enforced by a government because the banks are never going to enforce it.

    It is wrong to apply the Word to only the poor. It needs to be applied to everyone.

    It is also clear that the government is not acting in the best interests of the people of these united States. If it was, it would not have encouraged the export of jobs, it would not have made it impossible to discharge a student loan via bankruptcy, it would quit spending trillions on wars that only benefit a few wealthy families, and it would have let the big banks all fail, rather than adding trillions of debt to the taxpayers, and we could start the financial system over with, what would have turned out to be, a year of Jubilee. It might be rough for a while, but the debt slaves would have been freed. As it is now, the rich men of the earth, who trade in the souls of men (Rev. 18), have used the looted money to buy the government and the media which they use to keep us enslaved in debt.

  42. kathryn Hardin says:

    please understand, I’m a Christian & I pay my 25% of federal taxes evey year. Because of that, my daughter, that’s trying desperately to finish college, is receiving Medicaid & Food Stamps to make it in this country. My church can’t afford to support her in this way, as I don’t think any church would. I only expect the wealthy to contribute their share of taxes, just as I do. I don’t think that’s asking too much, do you? As for the people that receive government help that could possibly find a job, I ask would it be enough pay to even live on? Please don’t send me anymore messages to my email of this sort, for I feel my thoughts differ greatly from yours.

  43. Barbara Ferguson says:

    Our Country, Land of the Free
    (Not Free handouts, but Freedom to prosper and live in safety.)

    The things that made our country great
    Gradually seem to dissipate.
    Life and liberty made us strong,
    A land where folks were proud to belong.
    Hard work and integrity propelled to the top,
    But God’s sovereign laws they’re trying to stop.
    Personal responsibility is fading away,
    And the entitlement mentality gets in the way.
    The changes in government are causing much stress.
    They’re spending money faster than it rolls off the press.
    I wonder what would happen if we really believed
    That God’s ways are best, and we weren’t so deceived.
    So let’s vote for people who have courage to stand
    For the principles that made the US a great land.
    When you go to the poles, let’s make it quite clear
    We want folks who share our values leading us next year.
    I hope the new congress will use common sense
    And not make foolish laws at tax payers’ expense.

  44. Diane says:

    Chuck, I admire you and thehelp you give to us everyday. I lost my job of 23 years and also broke a foot, unable to walk for 6 months all this year. It has been a terrible time. Without State disability and now Unemployment benefits, I would be lost. I want you to know that no one in their hearts wants to be reliant on the government. It is very painful and stressful. I don’t believe it is right to further increase the load we the unemployed now carry. Do you believe that Banks and Oil companies bear responsibility also for the mess we are in? What words of exhortation would you use on them? With all lost this year, I ask that those yet unaffected remember and thank the Lord, it has not been you.

  45. Elizabeth says:

    About charity:
    It helps me to reflect on the fact that God shed His grace on me… WHILE I WAS YET A SINNER…Jesus died for me. It is not a question of who qualifies, it is a question of do we trust God enough to be the one that provides. We cannot out give God. If the church would be the faucet for God’s blessing to flow to the needy there would not be a line at the government center. God layed it on my heart to start meeting the basic needs of those in my community, by His leading our church started a mobile clothing closet which now gives clothing to anyone that expresses a need. When that need is met with dignity and without question, it is not long before that person returns with head held high, heart full of thanks, and a spirit of service to help continue the ministry. If someone is willing to receive a blessing given in Jesus name it is not about the food or the clothing, it is about the blessing. When a person finds thier worth in God’s eyes they often find a new confindence that allows them to see that God has a plan for them. Take the blinders off and start looking at people, really look at people and acknowledge who created them and how God sees them. Christians please! let us exercise our priviledge of being the hands and feet of Christ to the needy. If we look to the government for anything it should be to protect our right to Love God, Love People, and Serve the World. We cannot compete with government, but GOD can! Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee, in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth RISE UP AND WALK!!! AMEN it is not about the money, it is about the Blessing! God Bless us all for seeking His guidance in serving the needy!

    About work:
    I have an idea for any Christian that receives support from the government…do what you are able to do, contribute in anyway that God has given you the ability to do so. Do something~ if you can lay there you can pray there; if you are able, but out of work: pick up trash, pull weeds, volunteer in the schools, find the busy one and be their assistant, encourage somebody; is your church spotless? wash the windows, take the pressure off of those who so still have jobs. Refuse to just receive the check ‘because you can’, you can still do an honest days work…GOD IS YOUR EMPLOYER…how he pays you is up to Him.

  46. sswsws says:

    i do know that most churches today seem to do very little to help the poor, even though it’s one of their two main purposes (the other is the spread the good news about Jesus)…

    At my former church, I had a homeless friend who wanted help. any help she could get, but did not want money… I emailed all the church leaders, asking if we can do something for her… anything… not one person/leader from the church answered my email… so I had my answer… this gave me a bad feeling about churches… years ago government stepped in to help the poor and the church stopped helping…

  47. Sandra Shepel says:

    I am glad for this article and for the feedback, the topic is difficult, I have been at both ends so I understand the dilema. The Scriptures encourage us not to get tired in well doing, meaning let us not give up helping & giving. because we will reap, GOD is faithful and if we give HE will also see us through in our times of need. And yes there are those who will take advantage, there have been always thieves: in old times and now that “steal” what does not belong to them…I can tell many stories, but a lot of you have already said much of what was in my heart. Thanks to the author of the article and to all those who took time to share their experiences..we need wisdom from above and discernment to know who should we help. If we really want to know THE LORD will show us who to help and who may be trying to take advantage of us..

  48. xdwword says:

    Thanks for telling this story.

    I wonder, though … if given a chance, how would “Bill” have described this encounter?

    It’s too bad that we may never know.

    • Lio's King says:

      Or may be we can get a follow-up, since it is in the same area as the one sharing the encounter. Ther emust be some ways we can encourage such as Bill, especially enlightening him and making him committed to self sufficiency.

  49. Mark says:

    Chuck, this is a great article. Thank you! also you can see from the posts, that the Church has a responsibility to create and manage the welfare programs. The government should not be doing this, but the Church as an institution should! The government only got into the welfare program business because the Church as an institution was not doing it, she left a vacuum, a void, and the government filled that void. The church, being closer to the people, will much more effectively serve the needy. People within the church are willing, yes even anxious, to help, to give, to reach out, but the church as an institution has not been facilitating in this area. Chuck, Please speak into this area. The economy does not seem to be improving any time soon. God by His grace is giving His Church (the institution) another chance to get it right! I worked on the mission field for nearly 20 years and was supported almost 100% by people within the churches, not by churches as institutions. I found that the church organization as a whole has very little interest in helping anything other than what the church leadership can control. Church leadership should be creating programs to reach out with compassion as an organization, on a large scale, nationally and internationally. The US government gives and sends aid nationally and internationally, while the churches go into debt to build buildings and offices and host pick-nicks and social gatherings! You are right, their are many people who abuse the system, don’t want to work and shouldn’t be getting aid, but there are many who are sincerely trying and do need help. The church as an institution has a much greater capacity (than does government) to sift through these people and help the needy with their true need, be that financial, emotional, spiritual or empowering them to help themselves. I know, pastors are going to say: well we do this or we do that. But the times call for all of us to realize that we obviously have not done enough! Look at the situation the country is in and realize that the ones that should be leading the nation (the Body of Christ) has been slacking off. That is why we are in the dire straits that we are. Let us (the institution of the Church) own up to it, repent, stand up and take charge. We read about Jesus feeding the 5,000, and just before He did that, Jesus told his disciples, “you give them something to eat”. Let us move the church to do what she is called to do and trust God to multiply. I know HE WILL!

  50. Chris Johnson says:

    This was an interesting article but as another mentioned earlier it may be an oversimplification of the issue. Just as Bill in the story incorrectly paints all Christians as uncaring, we should careful not to paint all recipients of government welfare spending as lazy and unwilling to work. Most of the the recipients of food stamps for example are children and the elderly, those who are more likely to be incapable of working for an income. Moreover, more than one-fourth of food stamp recipients are employed. While it is true that some abuse the programs offered by the government, it is dangerous to let that become the stereotype of all.

  51. Edwin says:

    Mr. Bentley,

    Has it escaped your notice that the structure and safety nets put in place after the great depression have been obliterated? We are just seeing the consequences of the shortsightedness of events like PATCO’s decertification and NAFTA’s rise. In the name of freedom and liberty, the US has championed what seemed efficient–but not what was best. We are seeing the effects of an unfortunate shifting of values among family, church, home and government. Sadly, many traditional roles are being assumed by one or more of the other institutions. Let’s not blame a stereotypical individual for this migration of values and roles. Whichever group steps up to fill the void is filling a space abdicated by one of the other institutions. I think THIS is the perspective that puts the bigger picture clearly in focus. E.g. had the churches accepted the role of inculcating Judeo-Christian values (as several other commenters mentioned), then there would be no role for government–no void to fill.

    We can all agree the government is ill suited for such and that such an arrangement is most inefficient but sadly somewhat necessary to a degree we will never agree on.

    I’ve never heard a conservative voice this view nor have I heard any evangelical embrace it, but it is absolutely true and easily discernable.
    E!

  52. Lois Moore says:

    Thank you for this article, and I am grateful to the many posters for their diverse and valid viewpoints.

    One more angle: Chuck, you state that “Bill” does not appear to have mental health issues. However, you talked with him for only a short time, and you have no background knowledge of his mental state or personal difficulties. It does seem, from his initial attitude and from the fact that he has trouble keeping a job, that he has anger issues, at a minimum, and may well have mental or developmental issues. Those are not always clear-cut or immediately evident.

    Certainly, Bill has a personal responsibility to do all that he can to work and to help himself. But he may well need someone to come alongside him and do the hard, sometimes unrewarding work of helping him with the issues which hold him back. Just finding Bill a job may not be helpful, considering his history of losing jobs due to an inability to get along with others.

    I wish that the needy were always grateful, responsive, and ready to take the next step to help themselves. However, like every single one of us, they/we are sinful and complex. We are called to offer whatever help is needed, which may or may not include financial assistance. We have to be in constant contact with the Lord, asking Him to tell us how to help in the ways which are truly helpful in the long term. We’re not smart enough to figure that out ourselves.

  53. Rob says:

    Thank you for the insight Chuck,
    I serve at a Deacon at my church and have to deal with this debate on a frequently. A couple comments that I want to share is that We will never know the statistics of all the people who use the government for assistance that actually “need” and have limited options for survival. We all know someone who abuses the “system” and getting away with not having to work for their handouts. I have witnessed fifty thousand dollar vehicles pull up to food pantry trucks to claim their monthly rations. There is good and bad in every situations. What is disturbing me is the analogy of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
    Since the economy has been labeled as poor, food, gas, electricity, (all common basic needs) are increasing at a faster rate then people’s income. In fact, many people are seeing a pay freeze or pay cut as a result of the “poor economy’. The public employees and so called middle class workers are losing pay, but are having to pay more for daily necessities. I am not an economist but it doesn’t make sense. How can we improve the economy when the majority of the people are do not have disposable income to buy company’s products. I say majority because I am assuming that the upper class or “rich” family’s( the anecdotal 2-5% who hold all the world’s wealth) can afford the change.
    So, even people who work struggle and need help. People who even work a little pay taxes, and so the notion of our government having assistance in place seems reasonable. Our country’s government was founded on Biblical principals but unfortunately the government isn’t run with biblical principals as the means of it’s decision making. It would be nice if we could break the chain of generational poverty and the unsettling principals it carries. All the churches can do is try to educate people as to the impact, burden and consequences their decisions have on society. God asks us to give with a joyful heart. If by paying more taxes because you are wealthy feels like taking from the rich to feed the poor, then you may have lost the “joyful heart”. Christians need to remember that everything they have is provided by God. Sometimes God has other plans for our “stuff” or money He has given us. It does feel good to give to people we know who are in need but just maybe your extra tax giving will go to someone who turns out to be a real person in need. A christian who comes from a church with only a few dozen members, who cannot afford to financially support their members. It is hard not to be bitter about “takers”, but again, their is good and evil everywhere and we as a society need to keep helping.

  54. Bill says:

    This was a very well written article from a person with a job that pays them enough to pay the bills and not have the need for the “government help”. I on the other hand am in need of the help. I work 40 hours plus per week, I have a Bachelors degree in Economics from Northwood University and up until 2009 was making very good money. I was laid off that year by 3 different companys in 2 different industries before finding a job in a completely different industry. Of course the job I now perform pays about 1/3 of what I was making. Now my wife and I have cut everything out of the budget that can be cut, leaving us with no “extras”. We have 6 (six) kids which we had before I was laid off, so the bills haven’t and won’t go down any further. Without the “evil” government food stamp program, the local food shelf, and on occassion the Salvation Army offerings, we would have no food, house, or anything for our kids or ourselves. We recently moved just to have a lower cost of living (housing and such), but now we find it just as expensive because food and gas are higher.

    So, yes, there are some people out there that abuse the system and take it for granted. But then there are many more like myself and my wife and family, that because of the times we are in, find it an absolute necessity to have that help albeit for a short while.

    I am constantly looking for a better paying job, my wife is looking for work and up to now, we haven’t been able to find either.

    We are both Christians and educate our children to be Christians and do believe in the Bible and that God provides for what we need.

    That all being said, I find your article offensive and rather rude. I see it a bit one sided, since you truly do not know what it is like, to be humiliated when filling out the applications, and basically begging for help. It is truly a very humbling experience and one that I do not wish upon any other American. Do more research before you write another article that bashes and bad mouths very helpful programs provided by this “evil government” you describe in your article. Sure the local private charities are good but they do not have the logistics nor ability to reach as many people.

    • Mark says:

      Sorry about your situation, Bill. I believe that the Church should do more to help people in your situation. I understand that the government is helping a lot of people in in situations like yours, but this is just not the role of government, this is the role of the Church. As I have stated in posts above, I would like to see the Church as an institution develop programs that the government does now, and I mean in a major national and international scale. I do believe that the Church does have the logistics and ability to reach as many people. You see the main difference is that when government does these things it does not come from the heart, it comes from taxes, that no one likes to pay, but when charity is done by the Church, people give out of the heart. This makes all the difference. Besides that, the Church knows the source of all wealth, the Creator of all that is. The government has limited resources.

  55. Dee Elle says:

    Mr. Bentley, I was fully offended by your article. I am a 39 year old mother of four with disabilities and I am often “presumed” to be something I’m not, or judged by my status of “not working.” People immediately want to know if my disabilities are physical or mental, visible or invisible, before they will “approve” of me as a disabled person. I am also shunned for calling myself a “stay at home mom” because that only applies to women who have wealthy husbands or who inherited money. This used to intimidate me, but not anymore. I AM a “stay at home mom” and if that bothers anyone, then they need to talk to God and not me. He knows my situation and it is only by His immense GRACE that I get to be home with them. It is also ONLY by His immense GRACE that you are who you are and live where you live today. Also, I think that you using this man as something “evil” in your article just so you can get kudo comments from those who do not or “no longer” have to rely on government assistance was cruel to the man. To God, this man is not just an example. He is a much loved child of the Lord’s. You didn’t have to walk up and offer this man anything. If you were doing it out of Christian love and kindness, Mr. Bentley, then why chastise the man at the end of the visit? I guess he “owed” you because you helped him. You don’t know someone’s everyday situation and for you to assume that this man can work a full time job easily just because you handed him money once and took him to buy groceries a second time, is quite pompous and judgmental in my opinion. But, it keeps money in YOUR pocket doesn’t it sir? Because you can belittle this man whom you don’t even KNOW enough to be downing like this, and get your kudos both for “helping” him and for telling the world about him. It saddens me that you are raising your kids to be kind to people for the wrong reasons. If I were this man, I’d rather you pass me on up next time. It sounds to me like you don’t want to help him get a job for “him,” but for your own self because his demeanor that day bothered “you.” I get so tired of rich Christian people putting the poor down when the Bible says to help them and love them. I think the Bible also states something about a camel having a better chance to walk through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter Heaven. Look, if you want to help others do it out of kindness and let GOD take care of the rest. If not, leave them alone and go buy your son a toy or something. Geez. (I wont’ be back to this site to read comments so anyone who wants to hurt my feelings or chastise me, sorry…maybe next time)

    • Minnesota Dave says:

      Dee, Chuck specifically was referring the ‘able bodied.’ Your circumstances take you out of that category. He was not chasitsing you or anyone else who cannot work because of their circumstances. Also, Chuck didn’t chastised the man. He simply informed him how he would respond in the future, hoping it would be an incentive for this man to use his God given ability to work. Scripture clearly supports that “He who will not work, should not eat.” But again, that refers the those with ability. The church is called to serve those who can’t.

  56. M says:

    Chuck, can you address this topic from the perspective of the family where dad is working 45+hrs a week, mom is at home caring for the kids and the family is trying to prioritize family time over being work aholics? Is it a matter of mismanagement of funds? Is there any time where using public assistance as a supplimental income is OK?

    Thanks

  57. matthew says:

    Powerful article…I want more facts if available…the chart is prefaced with a work force statement of year 2010 as a ratio of 3-1……the chart does not list work force just participation numbers, as the population grows so should the chart….so I would like a clear workforce and participation ratio…then the average cost of inflation and cost to manage such assistance we know would grow….so when…?? do we see a greater dependency on assistance …is there a time period??? versus standard growth ratios…wow so much to consider….for now I will continue to assist anyone I can for the day, the moment, for tomorrow is unknown to me but to do my best for the day is what I can offer….

  58. Pastor J says:

    So what should we do, as a Christian, if we DO qualify for benefits like heating assistance or food stamps? This is a grey area for our family, because, while we can survive without the help, it should would help our budget! We’re already on Medicaid because my employer (a church) can’t afford health insurance. I feel terrible about receiving Medicaid, because I know the government doesn’t really have the money it’s spending. But on the other hand, my 3 kids need coverage somehow. Does that logic extend to something like food benefits? That’s difficult for me to discern.

  59. pat says:

    My concern is for the working poor. I know a single mother of 4 (who has gotten little child support from her ex-husband). She works hard and would get a second job, except that she can’t afford child care. She cannot make it on her salary, even with food stamps and living in public housing – which charges her $650 a month for rent, not including utilities. (I have helped her several times to avoid eviction.) How many others are there like her?

  60. Diane says:

    If at all possible, it is best if the person’s situation can be verified. I run the Outreach Ministry at my church. We do not help financially (rent, utility, gas or bus vouchers, etc) without verification. Our congregation is given business-size cards to give to those in need with our Help Line number and the local 211 referral line on it. The cards can be put in a snack size baggie with a food coupon from the local fast food restaurant. They carry them in their glove compartments, purses & wallets to give out when needed. We also started a network of Christian churches in our county where a church can refer a client in need to our special Help Line number. We field the calls & ask the needed questions. The client is then either referred to a local helping agency or local church ministry for things like food or clothing. If finances are needed, we get verification of the situation (talk with landlord, utility company, etc) and then put the need out to the network churches to share the load and we pay directly to the company – never to the client. Because we keep a record of every call, we are able to notify our churches if we find that someone is just church hopping for handouts. If you would like more information on how we are working our Christian Church Network, feel free to contact me, Diane, at outreach@covp.org.

    • Mark says:

      Good job! keep up the good work! I know you must encounter very difficult challenges doing this kind of work, but be encouraged! …we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Rom 5:3-4
      God bless you!

  61. Chuck Bentley says:

    Thank you for the many excellent insights. I read the replies and benefit greatly from this exchange.

    There are two resources that I believe offer great wisdom, tools and models for those who want to serve the poor and hurting in a Biblical and effective manner – one is a book and the other is a proven method that can be adopted in a community of believers.

    Book: “When Helping Hurts, How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself” by Steve Corbett and Dr. Brian Fikkert. The Open Table has developed a wonderful new approach to lift people out of poverty in the US. You can learn more at http://www.theopentable.org

  62. Miles Carmany says:

    Interesting that you bring up Robin Hood.

    It is actually impossible for the Government to play the role of Robin Hood, if you read the stories carefully. Robin Hood did take from rich people and give it to poor people as well as profiting himself and his close friends. But the people he took from weren’t simply rich, they gained their wealth through some form of taxes or other fee imposed upon the citizens.

  63. Roger Squire says:

    I agree on your general message but I find fault in you assumptions. 1st if we christians look at everyone as this prism aren’t we missing the message of Matthew 7 verse 1-5; our job to pray for these people and help for all you or I know that was GOD himself you helped it’s not our concern. 2nd i find that the 1/2 the country that had little effects of the recession need to think of the parable walk a mile in another man’s shoe’s and again pray for them. I am in no way condoning people gaming the system. but I worry that because of a few, we are not doing enough in our call as christians.
    thank you

  64. Michelle Pender says:

    Not everyone on food stamps does not work, in fact many employeed people rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families because their employers don’t pay them a living wage. Many of those employers probably get some kind of charity from the government in the form of tax breaks and incentives for doing business.

  65. Kelly says:

    I didn’t have time to read all of the replies, but in the first dozen or so I didn’t see this message coming thru, so wanted to share. Some stated that w/o government assistance they would have had nowhere to go and/or the Church didn’t help. Shame on the church, but I think that’s also a symptom of government handouts. When such a large percentage of a working person’s income is involuntarily taken to support national programs, that Christian is left with fewer dollars with which to help. Had the gov’t stayed out of the picture, perhaps more Christians would actually be in a position to help.

    An example I like to use to describe my preference in this mess is to assume you get to keep 100% of what you earn. Then your neighbor falls on hard times. You can now give your neighbor $100, $500, $1000, whatever the case may be, and 100% of what you give benefits your neighbor. Contrast that with that same amount going to any one of the public assistnace programs-how much do you think actually helps the recipient? I don’t have those stats, but we all know that it isn’t 100%, that a good portion of it is used to administer the program.

    I’m not a fan of taxes, I’m not a fan of big government, I’m not a fan of the Church not doing its job. There are many of us that both pay large sums in income tax AND give over and above the tithe because it’s the right thing to do. We have to educate people and move away from a system of government as helper and towards a system of Church as helper.

    • Lois Moore says:

      I wish I could be sure that, if the government lowered taxes, everyone would respond by taking the money not paid in taxes and using it to help the poor. I am far from certain that this would be the case. I think many people would just buy more electronics, go out to eat, etc., and still feel that they had no extra resources for the poor.

  66. Calvin V. Settles says:

    Thhe story of Bill and his misfortune was a great analogy of many Americans in our society today. I would like to interject to that analogy and say this . This is not the norm for all who have fallen to misfortune. At times you have those in similar situations who are not bitter nor angry and choose to change their immediate circumstance because of the ripple effect of their situation. This meaning simply that one circumstance of misfortune is followed by another misfortunate circumstance after another. This creating the ripple effect of negative circumstances. Also due to an individuals downtrotten experience many times people and help organizations are providing the care they feel is most necessary and maybe not what is truly the need of that particular individual.
    All this is said based on my own circumstances. Earlier this year I was stricken with a heart attack in went into the hospital for 5 days. Prior to going into the I was self employed without any health insurance, no savings and no emergency funds. Okay after being released from the hospital this whole experience devastated me far greater than I could imagine. First I was out of work for 3 to 4 months immediately. Now the great blessing I had was lots of family support that was a great drain on my family.Now the problem that resulted from this was not that I could eat but what I needed was the need for money to get my business back on foot. Eventhough I was provided with assistance to take care of needed expenses I was not given assistance for where I needed the help to go the most. Now without having to go into no details no assistance was needed for anything illegal, drugs/alcohol or anything immoral. Money was simply needed to my business back up and running. This is the reason I say often times assistance is provided for what others deem necessary and not necessarily what is truly the need of the individual.

  67. LoverofGod says:

    The quote below from the article poses quite a dilemma. While we are not called to support those who are able and unwilling to work, we are called to love. Part of that love may or may not include continuing to support them. When we know His true character we will know His heart on the matter. I commend Mr. Bentley for continuing to give the gentleman some help.
    How are we to determine what the term “unwilling” means. I don’t think situations like this have to do with a “work” problem, it has to do with a “kingdom” problem. The natural need for food should not have to drive anyone to work.(This is not a profound financial principle) The natural love of God, should! And by the way what is “work”? Paul did some work here and there…etc. He didn’t have a 9-5 job that paid medical and a pension. I believe, if we start teaching people about the “kingdom” rather than “prosperity” we will see a shift in not only the people, but in the economy as a whole. What about “seeking first His kingdom?”
    Too many people are turning the bible into a financial guide book, when the bible is for us to get to know who our Father is so we can represent Him on this earth so others would want that relationship with Him.

    “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

    Paul is not being cruel or heartless in this passage. He is expressing a truth that those who are able but unwilling to work should be disqualified from receiving charitable help, thereby allowing their natural need for food to drive their effort to work. This is a profound and often overlooked financial principle.

  68. Judith says:

    The problem is that the govt has killed our incentive to work. Many honest people are wrestling with a decision they never anticipated…..should I tap into the govt programs? They do the math and reluctantly come to the conclusion that it makes no sense to work hard since they end up BETTER off financially by working LESS hours (illogical but true!)…..not to mention the “perks” that are marketed tantalizingly….you can work 2 jobs and still have to cut cellphone & internet from your budget, or you can work minimally & the govt will provide you with a new phone with 250 minutes/mo plus FREE internet service (straight from the taxpayers’ pockets!) There is something fundamentally unfair about a system that prospers the lazy at the expense of its workers.

    Charity is no longer designated for the “poor”, and it lost any “stigma” when well-dressed people from beautiful homes began to partake. We need to see it more as a “moral” choice than a “financial” one. The “right” choice may not be the most financially feasible…..but our soul (as the marketers remind us) is “priceless”! We can’t afford to lose it.

  69. Tina A says:

    What happened to treat others christ like? I have a bachelors degree and my husband has some college. I work over 60 hours a week and he works when his medical condition allows. It is still not enough. I have an autistic daughter and a pre school son. We own one vehicle that is over ten years old. We don’t have extra’s like cable. I am writing this at work before my scheduled start time. I am tired of the stares and glares that I receive while I am at the grocery store when I have to use my link card to pay for my groceries. I have to dress nice for work, but I do work and it still is not enough to support my family. I lost my job and the jobs I am qualified for are going to those more qualified. I am making half the income that I was before the recession. I have had to cut all extra expenses. Not everyone chooses to receive a handout. If I could find a job that pays enough to support my family I would gladly do whatever it takes. I can’t move to a better location for jobs because of the programs that I have my daughter in. I can’t move, find her programs, and look for a job all at the same time. My husbands medical condition can have him laid up and unable to even lift our son let alone perform any kind of work. Because he has a medical condition no one will hire him but minimum wage jobs, where he hurts himself and has to spend a year doing physical therapy and not working. We are in an endless cycle, and we have tried daily to break the cycle. My daughter looks normal so I get asked all the time why isn’t she working. I like the comments that I need to pay my dues before I can succeed. I have been in the same industry for 23 years, I have went back to school for another industry and cannot get hired because there are too many people out there with more experience.

    • In His grace says:

      My heart goes out to you Tina. You are stuck in a cycle. This world is not fair and God did not say it would be easy down here. I can only reach out and offer the hope that is in Jesus and that while this is painful right now that we have something to look forward to for all eternity. I know that doesn’t help the situation you are in but if you would trust in Him that He will care for all your needs.

  70. Udaya says:

    Ok But what do you say about people who suffering from deppresion ?

  71. Dolly says:

    I think the issue is not necessarily the poor, but the lazy. God’s word says if you don’t work you don’t eat. Women were to work at home, taking care of the children, cooking and cleaning while the men were to labor to earn and support the family. The problem is SIN . . . so many having children out of wedlock and collecting government checks because they can’t support them. Or because the deadbeat fathers don’t want the responsibility of taking care of them. It has become a mind set and is being passed down from one generation to the next. An I have to ask why are we letting illegal immigrants cross the boarder and automatically they are entitled to our hard earned taxed dollars. They pop out numerous children as well and we support them. I say it is a messed up system. This is not what God had in mind I feel sure.

    • Calvin V. Settles says:

      Without you outright saying this wouldn’t you think those comments hinge upon racism.

      • Dolly says:

        Why would it, it applies to anyone who lives off the system rather than working. I just find it difficult to support people who are here illegally and automatically entitled to our tax dollars. it’s a huge part of what is causing our bankruptcy of the United States. It appears that people who come here illegally are more entitled to our benefits than we are when we desperately need them. The more we give the more they will come an suck us dry. I am a Christian and God’s word says it plain and clear, if you don’t work you don’t eat. No one is entitled to live off of handouts!

      • Calvin V. Settles says:

        I’m sorry you feel that way because I am wondering where are you getting your facts from. I believe if you follow the current events you will find many banks, large corporations and other organizations have had a lot to do with sucking this country dry but you haven’t made mention of any of these entities. As a Christian are we not to love our enemy if they are hungry give them food, if they are thirsty give them water. To express love is difficult Christ never stop loving us even during and after the brutal treatment he received while toting his cross to Calvary.

      • Dolly says:

        I agree with your sentiment, but where does it stop? The giving and giving and giving. I do have trouble giving to those who come here just for the free handouts. They are here illegally and that is the key word to me. Do we give until there is nothing left? We have kids in our own neighborhoods and schools that are hungry. I feel we should take care of our own. We cannot take care of the whole world and ignore our own.

      • Calvin says:

        Okay what can I say other than good point. However, are we not our brother’s keeper? We have a responsibility to one another. We have no control over those who have entered the country illegally and there overall purposehere. Now are we only concern about the aliens we believe are illegal or are we concern about all aliens that are truly illegal and there actual motive for crossing our borders. There are many aliens here in our country illegally that are not looking for handouts but are here bringing other illegal activities far more damaging than a handout.

  72. Chad Elrod says:

    Thank you for finally answering a very pertinent and “hot button” topic for our society and pariticularly Christians. Perhaps we can work towards shifting the paradigm back the other way!

  73. In His grace says:

    Point well taken BUT…will someone please explain why for 2 years of making it known within the church that I’m an unemployed single parent seeking work that nobody has made an attempt to ask what is the best way they or the church can help? It’s frustrating that people will only listen or pray. It’s easier to do that than to take action or help out in some tangible way. If you have not experienced some of these difficulties in your own life, please do not judge as you have no idea how you would respond unless you were living it yourself. Even if you know someone going through a tough time, it’s still not the same as living it out personally. Please don’t tell a single parent “Oh well, you do what you need to do, just flip hamburgers at a burger joint and everything will be okay”. It will not! PT minimum wage will not support a single parent and you are asking a single parent to work during hours/days that they need to be home taking care of their children. Not every single parent receives child support. So how does one survive if the church will not respond? I’m certain that there are single parents that want to work but they also need to be there for their children. Employers are not compassionate or merciful to those willing to work but have some limitations due to their circumstances. Believe it or not, there are some parents that have nobody else to help care for these children (including relatives) while they need to work. Employers expect you to abandon your children so you can work when they want you to work. They don’t care about your personal circumstances. Have any of you read stories about single parents that need to work forcing them to leave their children at home and then get in legal trouble as a result or something serious happens to the children while at home? Does anyone on this post understand any of this? I hope that my voice speaks for all single parents out there that are finding themselves in a difficult and challenging spot right now. May God watch over you and your children and God bless those that do take action to help those that God has called on us to help.

    • Dolly says:

      My heart goes out to you, I have been there. I too wondered where the church was when I as a member was struggeling because of unemployment. While unemployment benefits are not enough, I have found that leaning on the Lord, praying and doing all that you can to spend wisely, and believing that God will meet my needs has never failed me. His timing is perfect and He has always come through in the nick of time when I was in need and wondered where the money was going to come from or where the next job would come from. I have learned to trust in God through my many times of unemployment in the past several years. God has taught me through adversity to TRUST in HIM. Man will always dissapoint, God will not. Be blessed and look to God for all your needs and strength to carry on.

  74. Luci says:

    “The duty of charity to the poor” Jonathon Edwards 1733 is an excellent read. There is a nice summary in Timothy Keller’s book “Generous Justice”. He talks of the concerns that we so often have or hear about on this issue of charity.
    It seems in many ways we feel that those in need or asking for help, need to meet our expectations, we want to be assured that they didn’t bring this situation on themselves, we want them to be ‘good’ people, worthy of help and to show gratitude.
    “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Rom 5:8 We did nothing to deserve His grace and even those that still continue to reject God are subject to common grace.
    Poverty is a complex issue with many interlaced causes. It should go without saying that provision for these in need of help must not create dependency but actually help them. Timothy Keller briefly discussed the gleaning principle, suggesting programs that encourage work and self-sufficiency rather than dependency.
    Are we pulling the plug too soon because of our judgments?
    It would behove many of us to remember that “our” money is God’s; we are stewards of His money. I am pondering, would it be better to err on the side of being too generous than hardheartedly tight fistedness with our heavenly fathers money?

  75. God Owns It All! says:

    I love the comments on this topic because it is an insight I think into the minds of other Christian hearts. We should never forget God owns it all. People rely on the government and not the churches for a reason think about that but isn’t it ultimately by the grace of God that those needs get met. God is a God of mercy who mercy lasts forever. No man or woman should have to fall into a situation that leads to no food on the table and not enough money in their pocket to pay bills, buy soap, toiletries, ecetera. But as christians, we are not spreading God’s truth around enough. Being good is not good enough people need to be born again, people need to know God’s love and the unapolgetic truth of the Word of God. We need to fight back with the Word of God and pray with out ceasing for a change in our children’s schools and the uncensored garbage and deception being taught through radio, tv and internet communication channels.

  76. Patty says:

    Over & over through my long life I have seen that many times this “entitlement” mentality is rampant and entrenched. My mom taught us to work to get what we needed and I thank God for her example. I grew up watching my mom try to make it on aid for dependent children when my dad left us high and dry. My mom had 3 kids and the baby was only 1. We lived in a rundown house that my grandfather owned and we were glad to be there. My mom took in laundry to try and supplement her ADC checks to feed us so that she could stay home and take care of us. The welfare lady caught her and made her pay back what she had made or lose her benefits! Yes, this was many years ago. My mom found a job and left us with a neighbor lady (who was drunk half of the time) so that we could have something to eat and wear. We didn’t have much, but my mom worked to give it to us. Her example has inspired me to keep on going when things get rough. My mom took in another girl my age (without compensation) and helped her to get on her feet when her parents threw her out. The school of hard knocks is just that, a school. My mom was also a praying woman and she kept her kids together.

    • Judith says:

      Maybe there’s a “hidden blessing” in all the hardship your Mom endured…being held in high esteem by her children! She took the “right” roads, not the “easy” ones….and cleared a path for you. Sounds like it was a difficult road for you kids to travel though! Sorry!

  77. Judith says:

    Tina A….your situation is a perfect example of exactly “who” the govt programs were designed to help, so you have no reason to feel guilty. The problem is that the govt is too large to monitor those they are helping (who hasn’t personally seen abuses of the system?) Churches are much more apt to know the people who live in their own neighborhoods. Maybe God is putting many of us through this trial to teach us exactly how to care for others who are hurting….there is no substitute for being in the trenches. That “insight” may be a wonderful blessing for our own churches.

    I believe the problem of illegal immigration has nothing to do with racism. It is mainly about disrespect for our laws & culture. Other countries don’t tolerate their immigration laws being broken….shouldn’t our laws be just as “sacred”? Why do people have the mistaken idea that Americans have no “cultural heritage” or that we have no LOVE for our own country? Our ancestors may have come from other places, but we are united as a people. Most of us citizens obey ALL the laws. Shouldn’t visitors do the same?

    Do we even notice the high price tag on divorce anymore? Everyone says it’s cheap now, but if we’re struggling to keep ONE household afloat in this tough economy, what makes us think we can afford TWO of them??? I would never want anyone to stay in an unsafe relationship (especially with children), but “single parent” now seems to be worn like a badge of honor. It confuses me when I see so MANY “single Moms” with very young babies. She must have thought he was “fine” a few short months ago…. but now he’s a monster? I would never presume to know what’s best for someone else, but where does MY responsibility end and THEIRS begin? Why are we supporting live-in boyfriends? These “mothers” have the maturity of a teenager demanding their “freedom” while still totally dependent on their parents. Let the boyfriends contribute to their welfare. Maybe “independence” should be the goal. Maybe showering them with “gifts” wasn’t really so kind after all. Maybe they need a touch of reality….any good parent understands that’s what real “love” is.

    • In His grace says:

      Judith, please remember that not “all” single parents come from this place; be careful not to lump all single parents in the same category.

      • Judith says:

        Sorry….I didn’t mean to give the impression that I was lumping all “single Moms” together….every situation is unique….I understand that completely! Guess it’s time for me to unplug the TV….the irresponsible behavior I’ve witnessed there is frustrating to say the least, especially since I see a thread of truth in it. With my own eyes I’ve seen an attitude change in our society….from one of responsibility for ourselves & our families to one of irresponsibility & selfish behavior….why else would a man refuse to support his own children? The govt appears to them to love “unconditionally”….but that’s never been true. Dependency comes at a very high cost.

        Maybe “loving our brother” means expecting the “best” of him and yet shoring him up when he fails? Isn’t that what you did for me when my words tumbled out all wrong? I’m glad you pointed it out to me, so I could repair the damage. Thanks!

      • In His grace says:

        It boils down to the sinful nature we are all born with. God never said it would be easy down here. We are in the world but not to be of the world. We all suffer from selfishness and pride. I believe it is the root of all sin. It’s unfortunate that through sin we all suffer including the children born to sinful parents. I’m grateful God made a way for all to come to Him! There is hope and our faith helps us run the race until the end. Have a joyful day!

      • Judith says:

        I agree with your comments, especially the reminder that “there is hope”! I sense that people are beginning to lose hope….in the govt, the economy, and in human nature itself (because of the greed & violence that’s all around us). Maybe the kindest gift we can give someone is restoring their “hope”…..by telling them about the ONE true source of it. What a blessing that someone gave that gift to us! Have a great Thanksgiving!

      • In His grace says:

        We have much to be Thankful for in our eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

      • In His grace says:

        P.S. Unplugged the TV two years ago and have not missed it.

    • Dolly says:

      Beautifully said!

  78. kesterson@gmail.com says:

    I’m so glad your church can pay you a large salary that you can make ends meet. All the churches i have ever been to have struggled to make ends meet for themselves let alone pay their servants that are faithful to them other then the main pastor. I would love for a church to help pay my medical bills. I am sickened by this story.

    • Kelly says:

      I’ve seen a few comments suggesting that Mr Bentley is either the pastor of the church where Bill was seeking help, or on their staff. I just re-read the article to see what I missed, because I did not get the impression that Mr Bentley worked for the church that Bill saught help from. I still don’t see where he says he’s a paid staff member of that church or any other church, but rather a member of that church doing exactly what ALL of us as Christians should be doing-helping someone in need.

  79. Judith says:

    As I read some of the replies I am stunned by people who feel it’s the govt’s job to get their “business” up & running or help them maintain the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. The govt programs were designed to keep people from literally living in “poor-houses”. They were designed to “keep you afloat” not buy you a “yacht”! Who wouldn’t love to own their own business??? But many of us will never get that opportunity because they don’t have enough money to pursue our dream. That’s life!!!

    Maybe because the last generation has grown up living in debt (thanks to credit cards), we have forgotten the simple fact that sometimes we can’t AFFORD something. There were 2″ of sale ads in the papers (so much for conserving resources!) for the Black Friday “melee”….think how much more $$ we’d save if we simply stopped shopping….how many gadgets does a person really need anyway? Ebay is full of stuff we no longer care about. Buying has become our national obsession. First it devours nest-eggs, and then it comes for our homes. We need to stop whining like spoiled children, and begin to think like adults. That’s what God expects of us….isn’t it?

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