by: Dan Nichols
Your thoughts on this Meditation are welcome. Please use the contact page to provide your comments for publication.
This is the essay a friend of mine wrote in the form of Notes on her Facebook page.
As I grow in my spiritual walk, I continually am challenged to follow with conviction what I consider life's instruction book, the Bible. Knowing that I have read scriptures on the topic before, I wanted to confirm that my political beliefs are scriptural. As I was trying to locate the scriptures to back up my political views, I ran across this article with the scriptures I was looking for and it sums it up perfectly so I thought I would share it. First, let me explain why I feel it's important to share this. Many times conservatives are chastised for not wanting to help the poor. But, at least with me, that is not it at all. My belief is that it is simply not the government's job to do so. Anyone who attends church regularly knows about tithing, which is to be given with a cheerful heart as scripture says. It is easy to give with a cheerful heart to the church where you know what is being done with the funds. Then, if you don't like how your money is being used, you have the freedom to find another church who will use your contributions in a way you find suitable. Where we have the problems is that when we are taxed by the government, we are forced to pay for some things that the government does that may not align with our morals or values. And, you may not hear many Christians shouting from the rooftops what they contribute to charity or to the needy, because the Bible tells us to give in secret and not be boastful about it. (Matthew 6:2-4 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.) As the family unit continues to deteriorate in our society, people have fewer family members they can depend on. I caught a great radio broadcast by Dr. Adrian Rogers on this topic today (The Generation to Come & The America of Tomorrow- you can find it here: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/). As more people in society are unchurched, they have no connection to their spiritual family in time of need. As a result, they turn to the government for help. I hope the below article will shed some light on a conservative viewpoint.
Government is not supposed to care for the poor.
A persistent theme throughout the bible is God’s care and concern for the underprivileged. However, that care is supposed to come voluntarily, not from the government. The first order of help should be from family (I Timothy 5:1-14) while those with no family help are to be cared for by the church. (Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 6:1-6). Because this help is voluntary and from limited resources, those who are lazy – able to work and don’t – do not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
I believe the bible is teaching us that volunteerism trumps government programs for these reasons:
- Volunteerism requires love and concern. Those who give do so from pure motives while those who receive know that the gift is given from a good heart. Government, on the other hand, receives money by taxing their citizens and spends money based on programs. Charity therefore becomes a non factor as the givers feel like they have been hi-jacked and the recipients feel entitled.
- Volunteerism is flexible. If the recipient does not work today, he will not eat tonight. Government programs are rigid. Once someone is in the system, he will continue to be there for months or even years.
Volunteerism requires responsibility. There used to be a time in the United States when receiving “charity” was an embarrassment. People had pride and wanted to earn their own way. Why? Because the charity, as the word implies, was received from a charitable person who often gave sacrificially. Recipients knew that as soon as they were able to get back on their feet, the charity would (and should) end. Furthermore, they would be motivated to help others who might have experienced similar problems. Government programs, on the other hand, promote laziness instead of responsibility. Why should someone, even if he is able, want to go back to work when he knows he has another six months or twelve months or twenty four months of benefits coming his way?
This is the essay I want to publish as a reply in the Notes on my Facebook page. Constructive criticism is welcome and encouraged…
Charity From A Liberal’s Point-Of-View
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.” ~ Paulo Coelho
After 46 years on this Earth, 21 of which I have been on a quest of knowledge, I still don’t feel like I’ve learned much. Maybe if there wasn’t SO much to learn, I may be less intimidated. However, never giving up, keeping an open mind, and practicing that which is learned will keep me living for today so I can be more informed tomorrow.
By an open mind I mean open to many things. Religion is one. After honestly evaluating many religions (example: not studying them as a Christian in order to prove that Christianity is right), I have concluded that man-made religions are not for me. I can and will follow a spiritual path, but it will be one of my own sense of right and wrong, not of another person’s. But also open to the fact that many religions have good values within them and that no religion should be dismissed automatically. (Often the values of religions overlap anyway.) I remain open to new experiences, new challenges, and to change. Change is difficult, but possible. I have changed…many times!
One change I’ve made is to be more knowledgeable about science. Nature and nurture, that is how each of us become who we are as adults and believe what we do. Anyone can choose not to believe certain aspects of science, but that each of us has 1) a unique strand of DNA and 2) were born into a unique environment are facts and not open for debate to believe or not.
So, to truly look at charity, we first we have to look at judgment. Our individual judgments are based upon our physical, mental, and emotional differences and experiences. We have to keep those factors in mind as we answer questions like: “Is laziness the only thing that makes a person poor?” “Are people utilizing government assistance because they’re ‘deadbeats’?” “Will every American who works hard be rewarded with material wealth in the U.S.?” When one thinks they know the answers to these questions, or believes they know, then they’re saying they do NOT know. One must experience the pain and suffering of others before being able to empathize. If you cannot empathize with someone’s situation, you are unworthy to judge them.
Finding what religions have to say about judgment is a simple search:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, ‘Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye,’ and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
"O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a sin."
~ Koran [Sûrah al-Hujurât: 12]
Other great thinkers and/or writers have written on this topic:
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
~Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.
It is well, when judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality.
Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.
~Edward Wallace Hoch
Time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain, therefore, awhile from setting yourself up as judge of the highest matters.
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." ~ Buddha
Do not confuse volunteerism with taxation. What you volunteer and to whom is your choice. Paying taxes is a law and is punishable if you fail to do so. The taxes you pay entitles you to the right to live in this country and continue to be a free citizen within it’s borders. The government doesn’t require you to volunteer anything to anyone, but does require you to pay taxes.
If you’re questioning the role of government - any government – here is a list of ten of the 102 things you should avoid that we in the U.S. pay taxes for, unless you’re a hypocrite:
- Do not use Medicare.
- Do not use Social Security.
- Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
- Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
- Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
- Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
- Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
- Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
- Do not use public restrooms.
- Do not send your kids to public schools.
Why did our founding fathers install the form of government we have?
“Because they felt that a republican government, being accountable to the people, would be most likely to protect individual rights and least likely to become tyrannical.” ~ Michael Montagne
Was Thomas Jefferson instrumental in writing the U.S. Constitution? So, using tax payer dollars for projects that don’t immediately/directly benefit all the citizens isn’t a new idea?
“Jefferson's plans to improve the Urban Environment
Nicholas King's (1771-1812) sketch of Thomas Jefferson’s plans for Lombardy poplars to line Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the President's House in Washington, D.C., was sent in 1803 to Jefferson by Thomas Munrow (1771–1852), superintendent of the city of Washington. Jefferson's landscaping ideas were influenced by the elegant avenues and gardens in Paris and contemporary concepts that trees and plants would purify the air in cities.”
From the web page Establishing a Federal Republic
What is government?
“Government consists of the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and the system by which they are organized. Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy of the state.”
“The word government is derived from the Latin infinitive gubernare, meaning ‘to govern’ or ‘to manage’.”
From the web page Government
1. the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration: Government is necessary to the existence of civilized society.
2. the form or system of rule by which a state, community, etc., is governed: monarchical government; episcopal government.
3. the governing body of persons in a state, community, etc.; administration.
4. a branch or service of the supreme authority of a state or nation, taken as representing the whole: a dam built by the government.
5. (in some parliamentary systems, as that of the United Kingdom)
a. the particular group of persons forming the cabinet at any given time: The Prime Minister has formed a new government.
b. the parliament along with the cabinet: The government has fallen.
“These Eight words the Rede fulfill:
’An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will’"
~ The Wiccan Rede
Who are these poor people you don’t want your tax dollars to assist?
“Far too many veterans are homeless in America—between 130,000 and 200,000 on any given night—representing between one fourth and one-fifth of all homeless people. Three times that many veterans are struggling with excessive rent burdens and thus at increased risk of homelessness.
Further, there is concern about the future. Women veterans and those with disabilities including post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are more likely to become homeless, and a higher percentage of veterans returning from the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have these characteristics.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.
Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless, and 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006). 97% of those homeless veterans will be male (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008).”
From the web page Homeless Veterans
And welfare? What about that?
“For the most part, welfare is a transient program. Recipients don't remain on the program forever. Fewer than 20 percent of all people on welfare remain on the program for more than seven months. Another 20 percent are on welfare for one to two years. Still, 27 percent remain on welfare for two to five years. Of all welfare recipients, 20 percent remain on welfare more than five years.”
Read more: About Welfare Statistics | eHow.com
1. Sometimes, tithes. the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
2. any tax, levy, or the like, especially of one-tenth.
3. a tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything.
verb (used with object)
4. to give or pay a tithe or tenth of (produce, money, etc.).
5. to give or pay tithes on (crops, income, etc.).
6. to exact a tithe from (a person, community, parish, etc.).
7. to levy a tithe on (crops, income, etc.).
verb (used without object)
8. to give or pay a tithe.
Some people want to believe that the 10% tithe most religions expect a participant to give is enough. Who do you give that 10% tithe to? Your church? So, you don’t complain about volunteering money provided you have something to gain from it directly as well? (Examples: a heated/air conditioned structure, padded pews, nice Bibles/hymnals, choir robes, etc.) How much of your tithe actually reaches the poor of your community? State? Country? Do you honestly believe that the 10% you have been directed to give (it is not voluntary if it’s expected of you) is all you should be giving for the greater good?
If your life is primarily guided by what’s written in the Bible, then let’s look to that which Jesus had to say on the subject. (It’s no mystery or secret that one can justify nearly anything by what’s written in the Bible depending on where they choose to look and how they choose to interpret what they read.)
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
This passage doesn’t really seem open to interpretation. However, as a Liberal, I’m open-minded and willing to listen to a different interpretation than what is obvious…
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
33 Sell what ye have, and give alms. Provide yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
This passage doesn’t say “Render unto Caesar what YOU think Caesar should have.” There’s no percentage of what to render to Caesar listed here. I wonder why that is?
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
If those who proclaimed to be “Christian” actually followed these next 5 verses, there would’ve been no need to write this essay…
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
As for the above, the first thing people should remember is that unconditional love comes with no conditions. That’s why it’s called “unconditional” love. “ You don’t know every poor person in this country personally, nor could you. Also, individuals and groups may put restrictions on their funding; they could discriminate based on any criteria they wish to. The government is able to reach more people more efficiently and is bound by law to do so without discriminating.
"In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves." ~ Buddha
“The deceitfulness of riches” is saying what? The more money you make can be justified by lying to yourself? Possibly? Surely this doesn’t include a large, expensive home while others in the world have small homes or no home at all? It can’t include expensive motorcycles, cars, and/or trucks when a less expensive one and/or one that’s better for the environment would be more beneficial for humanity? Any video system and game your child wants when so many children in the world are dying every minute of every day from preventable disease and/or hunger?
Matthew 13 (Mark 4 also)
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
These next 4 verses are pretty simple unless one is just trying to make them more complicated than they need to be. According to these verses, the real treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven. A pious person will not allow anything to get in the way of reaching the Kingdom of God and material possessions would be a hindrance. Do you interpret these passages differently?
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Please pay attention to the “defraud not” in verse 19. Many conservatives thought Kenneth Lay and his cronies were “persecuted” when they were being tried and convicted. The rest of the verses seem self-explanatory. However, given the capitalist society we live in, I’m sure there’s a rich person who has managed to find a justification for hoarding material wealth and has twisted why Jesus said what he did here…
17 And when He had gone forth onto the road, there came one running, and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
18 And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother.’”
20 And he answered and said unto Him, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”
21 Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him and said unto him, “One thing thou lackest: Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
22 And he was sad at that saying and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked round about and said unto His disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!”
24 And the disciples were astonished at His words, but Jesus answered again and said unto them, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
26 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
27 And Jesus, looking upon them, said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
28 Then Peter began to say unto Him, “Lo, we have left all and have followed Thee.”
29 And Jesus answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the Gospel’s,
30 but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life.
31 But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.”
Verses 14-15 are the key passages for the point of this essay. “Choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life” seems pretty cut-and-dried to me, but again I’m interpreting these verses as a Liberal. Also 20-21 appears evident that a Christian isn’t allowed to put even their family first. The Word of God is supposed to be first and foremost. What were the 2 most important commandments again?
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God.
12 Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 The seed on the rock are they that, when they hear, receive the Word with joy, but they have no root: they for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they that, when they have heard, go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they that, in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience.
16 “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel or putteth it under a bed, but setteth it on a candlestick, that they that enter in may see the light.
17 For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid that shall not be known and come abroad.
18 Take heed therefore how ye hear, for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.”
19 Then came to Him His mother and His brethren, and could not come near Him because of the crowd.
20 And it was told to Him by certain ones, who said, “Thy mother and thy brethren stand outside, desiring to see thee.”
21 And He answered and said unto them, “My mother and My brethren are these who hear the Word of God, and do it.”
Other religions and religious people have philosophies that would contradict the hoarding of material wealth some people wish to justify:
“Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, "here, my poor man", but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect.” ~ Swami Vivekananda
Here are some other terms and their definitions in case any reader is interested. Philosophically these words and its definition could make for another essay:
1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others ( opposed to egoism).
noun, plural char·i·ties.
1. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one's life to charity.
2. something given to a person or persons in need; alms: She asked for work, not charity.
3. a charitable act or work.
4. a charitable fund, foundation, or institution: He left his estate to a charity.
5. benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor: She looked so poor that we fed her out of charity.
1. generous in donations or gifts to relieve the needs of indigent, ill, or helpless persons, or of animals: a charitable man giving much money to feed the poor.
2. kindly or lenient in judging people, acts, etc.: charitable in his opinions of others.
3. pertaining to or concerned with charity: a charitable institution.
1. liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift.
2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.
3. large; abundant; ample: a generous portion of pie.
4. rich or strong in flavor: a generous wine.
5. fertile; prolific: generous soil.
noun, plural phi·lan·thro·pies.
1. altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.
2. the activity of donating to such persons or purposes in this way: to devote one's later years to philanthropy.
3. a particular act, form, or instance of this activity: The art museum was their favorite philanthropy.
having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish.
not selfish; disinterested; generous; altruistic.
1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.