Having spent several years taking the socialist crowd to task in my writing and podcasting, I have nothing more to prove in that regard, if ever I did. Yet here lately I have been feeling as though my critiques and calls for repentance have been too one-sided, and I mean to remedy that now.
To be clear yet again, socialism is bad. Your “fair share” of what someone else has earned and owns is precisely zero. And not to put too fine a point on it, but young Christians especially have no excuse for pretending at an entitlement to coveting anything whatsoever which belongs to their neighbor. See the tenth commandment for more on this. Or read Jeremiah Burroughs excellent treatment of murmuring and dissatisfaction, ‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.’
But there is another Biblical responsibility. Besides all of us striving to not be envious and jealous regarding the property and persons of others, we are call to be cheerful givers.
This, by the way, is precisely why strong-arming folk into being “charitable” as a fulfillment of God’s commands simply will not do. When was the last time you saw someone cheerfully being forced to give to charity? It does not happen. Claims to the contrary are just plain silly.
Love in Deed and Truth
All the same, I cannot shake remembrance of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, or passages from God’s Word like James 2:14-17.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
For another, 1 John 3:16-18.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Or for yet another Matthew 25:31-40.
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
The simple truth from God’s Word is that those who are in need are called to be content in the Lord in their condition, and not envy or covet the position or possessions of those who are wealthier in this world than they are.
But so also, those who are in a position to bless those who are less fortunate – particularly among the saints – ought to have an innate desire to help their Christian brothers and sisters with more than just promises to pray, or offerings of advice, or well wishing about being warmed and filled.
The Lord loves a cheerful giver, so this is not an effort at guilt-tripping. Nor should we want those who are fortunate to give publicly like the Pharisees did to be seen by men, since then they would have received their reward from men rather than from God.
Nevertheless, I would be guilty of the sin of partiality to spend all my time rebuking he who is unfortunate, but flattering by silence the man with a great fortune who, as the temptation is common to man, “shutteth up his bowels of compassion.”
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