Bible verse and the Spirit of Prophecy insight
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Ellen G. White – Early Writings, p57.1
I saw that the message, “Sell that ye have, and give alms,” has not been given, by some, in its clear light, and the object of the words of our Saviour has not been clearly presented. The object of selling is not to give to those who are able to labor and support themselves, but to spread the truth. It is a sin to support and indulge in idleness those who are able to labor.
Present day application
You walk through a street of a city or town, minding your own business, while a person approaches you and asks for change. It has happened to most of us, to some of us many times (it happens to me almost every time I visit a town or a city). If you are a Christian, you are expected to extend a helping hand to the needy, but does it mean you have to give them money? Actually, the Bible does not endorse this at all. Has Jesus or His disciples ever given money to someone? They did have a common purse, from which they drew money to buy food. Ironically, the apostle who was responsible for keeping that purse and for buying provisions for the group was… Judas the Iscariot. Judas kept a pretence of caring for the poor, but secretly he kept stealing from the money box.
If we should not support the poor with money, then how can we demonstrate our Christ-like character? Have you noticed that beggars always wait for people in busy and crowded places? This serves a double purpose: firstly, because they can ask more people for money; secondly, once they ask someone for money in public, this puts a person on the spot, others will watch their reaction and this will make them compelled to give. Judas used this technique when Mary brought an expensive perfume to anoint Jesus. In a crowded place, he asked for the ointment to be sold and the money given to the poor. Thus, putting Jesus himself on the spot.
The Bible teaches that if you “hide your eyes from the poor”, you will not be blessed. Thus said, we should not help the poor so that we can be blessed. This should not be our motivation. Since we should help the needy, how to do it without falling into a trap of supporting the idle? Let us be honest, most of the beggars out there are able to work, but they chose not to. There are some who are genuinely unable to work, the paralysed or the cripple for example. When apostle Peter was confronted by such an individual, he healed him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not give him gold or silver, but he gave him an ability to work for himself. What Peter manifested there was a spirit of a true medical missionary.
Another prominent Bible character – apostle Paul, strongly believed in a self-supporting ministry. During the week, he worked as a tentmaker. He did not want to be a burden to those whom he witnessed to. The early Christian churches did support one another and the missionaries with money, but this was because they believed that the money will be distributed among the needy by godly men. Unfortunately, the same evil spirit that made Judas steal, has crept into the church and there sprang up many ‘Judases’ among God’s professed people.
It takes discernment and wisdom from above when dealing with beggars. Each case is different. We cannot always know whether the person asking for money is genuinely in need or is simply lazy. It happened to me several times that instead of giving money I have paid for beggars’ meal, and they were not happy with that at all. If you are in a position of healing someone, like Paul did, do so. If you can offer them food or employment, do so. But think twice before you choose the easy way of giving them money, as by doing so, you quite often support them in their sinful lifestyle.
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