Deuteronomy 15:7, Among you a poor man.
Multiple times, the Scriptures enjoins those who have been blessed materially to help those who are poor. In fact, YHVH even has a special place in his heart for a special class of individuals who have fallen into poverty, namely, the widows and the fatherless (Deut 14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:19; 26:12–13; 1 Tim 5:3). Let’s now discover some biblical guidelines about charitable giving.
Yeshua declared that the poor would always be among us (Matt 26:11), so there will never be a lack of opportunity for the so-called haves to help the have-nots. Furthermore, YHVH promises to bless us when we give to the poor (Ps 41:1–3) as well as to those who have dedicated their lives to serving YHVH’s people through the ministry (Deut 14:29; 16:14; 26:12–13).
In Deuteronomy 15:7, we discover that there are levels of priorities in our charitable giving. Our first responsibility is to help a poor person who is a brother, that is, who is a member of our immediate family, or someone who is like a brother to us. Second, we are to help those in need who reside in our gates, or are a member of our immediate community. Finally, and last, our charitability is to go toward those who are in need in our own land or country. The idea here is that our charitable giving is to go first to those who live the closest to us, and then go out from there geographically as we are able to do so financially. Too many churches have it backwards. They support to poor in other countries through evangelistic outreach, while neglecting the mission field or charitable giving on their own backyard.
In the Torah, there is a social welfare system in place to help the needy, but it comes with strict guidelines. For example, YHVH instructed the Israelites to set aside a certain portion of their income to help the poor. (Deut 14:28–29). For the ancient Israelites, this was a sort of social welfare system whereby those who had been blessed materially were commanded to help those who weren’t and were in need.
Moreover, the Torah had other social mechanisms whereby those who had fallen into poverty had the means to work themselves out of that economic state. There was no such thing as sitting idly and expecting a handout from society! For example, a poor person could sell themselves into servitude for a period of time until they worked themselves out of debt (Exod 21:2; Lev 25:39–55). Every seven years, debts were forgiven (Deut 15:1–2). Those who had an abundance financially and were in position to loan money to a poor person were forbidden from charging the lender any interest (Lev 25:35–38). Moreover, a poor person who had land could also sell their land to raise money; however, at the end of the 50 year jubilee cycle, that land would be given back to them (Lev 25:8–17).
Laws were in place where the poor wouldn’t starve to death. Two Torah laws insured this. Those who had agricultural lands were neither to glean their fields after their initial harvest, nor were they to reap the corners of their fields. The poor were allowed to come back into the fields after the harvest and to reap anything that remained (Lev 19:10; 23:22; Deut 24:19–21), and to eat freely of the agricultural produce every seventh year (Exod 33:11). In fact, the entire book of Ruth is the story of how this system worked such that the well-to-do helped the poor. There was no system in place where the government gave a person vouchers to receive free food; you still had to go out and work for it.
There is one key fact stands out in the Torah’s social welfare system however. The poor had to work for their food. In fact, most Bible students are aware of the fourth commandment, which tells us to rest on the seventh day of the week—the Sabbath. However, many people overlook the rest of this command; namely, everyone is to work for the six days prior to resting on the seventh-day Sabbath. Working is a biblical command. In the Bible, there was no such thing as retirement, or sitting back idly and waiting for a government welfare check to show up in your mailbox while you sat around watching television, playing video games or doing social media!
The idea of sitting back and collecting public assistance for doing nothing was unheard of in the Bible and is contrary to the Torah. This is a socialistic and an evil Marxist concept and a form of wealth redistribution, which is a form legalized theft, and disincentives one from working. This is not “a workers paradise” despite the propaganda that tells us otherwise. This concept is anathema to the biblical concept of hard work, personal responsibility, and thievery. In fact, socialism, which Karl Marx, the father of modern socialism, is considered to be one of the steps to a complete communist “utopia.” Such a system has proven to be a miserable failure everywhere it has been tried: the Soviet Union, Cuba, Communist China, North Korea Cambodia, Venezuela and many more countries. Who wants to live in such places? It it’s so great there, why Marxist-socialistic governments have to construct walls to keep their people in, and why do people risk their lives trying to escape?
Moreover, so called “democratic socialism” has not proven to be a great success either but has resulted in high taxes, loss of personal liberties, highly regulated societies, high costs of living and massive debts in the countries where it has been tried.
Socialism and communism are a failure in part because they disincentivize people from working hard and enjoying the fruits of their labors. Socialism also promote laziness, stifle creativity, free enterprise and ingenuity. This is because the more you work, the more the government takes from you and gives to those who do not work. Why work hard and be creative under such a system when the rewards for your work will just get taken from you anyway? That is why socialistic economies eventually go to ruination and result in the devolution of societies.
Socialism is a system that is based on theft, the love of money, greed and covetousness. The devil is the father of this and these are the fruits of a Satanic system, for as Yeshua declared, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Why should his economic system of choice, started by a Karl Marx, a God-hating Luciferian, not be a reflection of this? Socialism operates an the basis of government mandated legalized theft and destroys free enterprise, one’s incentive to work hard and the desire for self-improvement. Such a system is ungodly and Satanic and brings about the destruction of society and personal well-being.
Above and beyond all of this, socialism does not encourage a man to work to provide for his own household as the Bible commands. If one doesn’t work to support his family, according to Paul, he “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever [or a heathen]” (1 Tim 5:8). This is a serious indictment against socialism and those who live on social welfare! In fact, with regard to the church helping those who were poor, Paul declared that those who refused to work shouldn’t eat (2 Thess 3:10). The idea here is that if one get’s hungry enough, he’ll go out and find a job, for hunger is a powerful motivator to find work!
At the same time, the church was to help those truly and legitimately in need, especially widows. However, before a widow could become dependent upon the church, the widow’s family was to support her financially (1 Tim 5:4). For widows over the age of 60, there were stringent requirements before she could receive any financial help from the church; namely, she had to be performing acts of service to members of the church (1 Tim 5:9–10). A widow who was younger was required to work or to marry someone who could support her financially (1 Tim 5:11–14). There is not even a mention here of the church or society having to care for a single man over the age of 60! Evidently, Paul expected him to work.
One thing is clear in the Bible with regard to the poor, there are no examples of lazy, pan-handlers or able bodied people receiving financial assistance from society, and there are no requirements for the saints to help such people.
Moreover, the global trend and march toward socialism and Marxism encourages the very things that the Bible denounces and will result in everyone being in poverty except the super-rich who control everything. Such a system enveloping and strangling the earth was prophesied long ago to occur in the last days before the second coming. Go read Revelation chapters 13 and 18.