Volmerding: Render Unto God and Care for the Poor
By Donna Volmerding
“For the poor you have with you always, but you do not always have Me.” — Jesus Christ
In a letter to a local newspaper, a pastor wrote that “if we are authentic Christians, we are always on the side of the poor, the marginalized, the least, the last and the lost.”
“Authentic” Christians do not dispute the fact that they are to be caring servants, but discussions about how best to care for the poor is when the water gets muddy.
Today in America, there are 47 million people on food stamps. I am certain that many of them do not want to be on public assistance; they want a job. There are some, however, who feel entitled to take from the public trough.
In his book “How Should Christians Vote?,” the Rev. Dr. Tony Evans, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, Texas, writes: “Government assistance for able-bodied citizens should be temporary and not designed to produce long-term dependency and an entitlement mentality. There should be accountability tied to the assistance so that the person receiving the assistance has to perform some sort of work or volunteerism that is connected to what they receive.”
It is not biblical that Christians and/or the government are to provide an unending supply of food, goods, money, etc., for those who refuse to help themselves, for those who are takers only.
“If a man does not work, you do not offer him a welfare check to pay him for his irresponsibility. You don’t look to the government to pay for laziness while taxing others to cover the bill,” Evans says.
Charity is personal giving from the heart. It is an act of love to God and one’s fellow man. It is enlightening, enriching and elevating for the one receiving the gift as well as the one who gives it. However, when a bloated, powerful government usurps money from those who work to dole out to those who do not, it is not philanthropy; it is theft.
Evans paraphrases St. Paul in Romans 13: “The one overarching job of civil government . . . can be defined as . . . ‘under God, the government is to promote the conditions for the well-being of the citizenry for good, while protecting the citizenry against the proliferation of evil.’”
Government should “create an environment for compassion to flourish,” Evans says. Otherwise, “the state becomes an all-encompassing promoter of federal economic dependency (that leads) to illegitimate and irresponsible personal and corporate welfare.”
Limited government does not mean a government that lacks compassion. Instead, “civil government should provide a safety net specifically and intentionally designed to produce self-sufficiency and not long-term dependency,” Evans says.
Unfortunately, the welfare state in America is a mile wide and an inch deep. Those who are truly disabled, mentally or physically, and cannot provide for themselves must have a long-term safety net.
Yet when able-bodied people are not providing for themselves or their families, they take precious public funds away from the truly needy. This is a monstrous scandal and fraud perpetrated on taxpayers through deception. Supporting bureaucratic waste that squanders billions of dollars — our hard-earned money — has nothing to do with kindness, caring or compassion; it has everything to do with the federal government amassing enormous sums of money, and power and control.
Authentic Christians must understand that giving from the heart is a personal act. It is rendering unto God what is God’s. Rendering unto Caesar is not charity; it’s called taxes.
Donna Volmerding is editor of the Fort Wayne Lutheran. A version of this article was published in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Contact her through her blog here.