A Handbook of Bible Law - General welfare

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994

General welfare

Comments: The Bible conveys the principle of individual responsibility, and that the primary cause of poverty is due to laziness. Thus, the primary means for sustaining life that should be followed according to biblical doctrine is expressed in the phrase: "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thes. 3:10). Each man was to bear his own burden for support and a livelihood. Each man was also expected to provide for his own (i.e., kinsmen), and especially for those of his own house" (1 Tim. 5:8).

However, God had proclaimed that, "The poor will never cease out of the land" (Deut. 15:11). This was reiterated by Christ who assured us, "the poor you will always have with you" (Matt. 26: 11). Further, there will always be orphans, widows, those that suffer hardships, loss of homes, and other cases of poverty. Thus, a number of ways were provided throughout the Bible by which the needy, the poor, widows and orphans could be aided and supported.

The most common form of aid recognized and established was charity from individual to individual. It is regarded as a Christian duty to give and aid others in need:

"I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:35).

Throughout history there have been both the rich and the poor, but this is a God ordained distinction - "The LORD makes poor and makes rich" (1 Sam. 2:7). Thus, God gives certain men riches and wealth (Eccl. 5:19), just as He gives certain gifts and skills to others. Each are expected to give in proportion to what God has given them (Mark 12:41-44).

The basic welfare system prescribed in the Bible is based upon individual charity, and tells us that we should not harden our heart towards the poor or needy, but shall lend to him what is sufficient to cover his needs (Deut. 15:7-8).

15A - Charity and Hospitality

  1. We are to be charitable to the poor and hungry. Deut. 15:7-8; Matt. 25:40-45; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Cor. 14:1; 2 Pet 1:7; 1 John 3:17.
  2. Acts of uncharitableness towards the poor are condemned. Prov. 29:7; Isa. 32:7; James 2:15-16.
  3. If because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking charitably. Rom. 14:15.
  4. The love of God does not dwell in those that are uncharitable. 1 John 3:17.
  5. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35.
  6. Every man is to give according to the purpose that God has placed in his heart. 2 Cor. 9:7.
  7. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels without knowing it. Heb. 13:2.
  8. Charity and love is to be sought above all things. Col. 3:14.
  9. We are to be hospitable towards one another without grudging. Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 5:10; 1 Pet 4:9.
  10. Give not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:7; 1 Pet. 4:9.
  11. Aid and hospitality is to be given to the poor. Isa. 58:7; Luke 14:13.
  12. The righteous man gives his bread to the hungry, and covers the naked with clothing, but the unrighteous man who oppresses the poor and needy shall not live. Ezek. 18:5, 7, 12, 13.
  13. Charity shall cover a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8.
  14. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 1 Cor. 10:24.
  15. Uncharitableness brings a curse. Prov. 21:13; Prov. 28:27.
  16. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. Matt. 5:42.

15B - The Poor and Needy

  1. A care for the poor is a characteristic of the righteous. Psa. 112:9; Prov. 29:7; 2 Cor. 9:9; Gal. 2:10.
  2. We should defend the poor and deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psa. 82:3-4.
  3. If one of your brethren becomes poor and falls into poverty among you, you are to sustain him, whether he be a foreigner or a countryman. Lev. 25:35.
  4. Do not harden your heart towards the poor but lend to him sufficient to cover his need. Deut. 15:7-10.
  5. You are not to mock the poor. Prov. 17:5.
  6. You shall not oppress the poor. Deut 24:14; Job 24:3-4, 10; Psa. 10:2; Isa. 10:1-2; Zech. 7:10.
  7. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors his Maker has mercy towards the needy. Prov. 14:21, 31.
  8. Neglect towards to poor and hungry is a neglect of Christ. Matt. 25:34-46.
  9. The poor you will always have with you. Matt. 26:11; Mark 14:7.
  10. He who neglects the needy does not have the love of God in him. 1 John 3:17.
  11. Curses and punishments are due to those who neglect the poor or withhold from him his needs. Job 31:16-22; Prov. 21:13; Matt. 25:34-46.
  12. God will bless and deliver him that gives consideration to the poor. Psa. 41:1; Isa. 58:10.
  13. He that is gracious to a poor man lends to God, and He will repay him for his good deed. Prov. 19:17.
  14. We should give of that which we have extra to the poor. Luke 3:11.
  15. The poor will never cease out of the land, therefore open your hand wide to your poor brethren. Deut. 15:11.

15C - Widows and Orphans

  1. We should be of aid and help to the fatherless and widows with their afflictions. Deut. 14:29; Job 24:21; Job 29:12-13; James 1:27; 1 Tim. 5:16.
  2. Do not take a widow's raiment in pledge. Deut 24:17.
  3. You shall not afflict or oppress any widow or fatherless child. Exod. 22:22-3; Deut. 27:19; Jer. 7:6-7; Jer. 22:3; Zech. 7:10.
  4. We should defend the fatherless and needy and plead for the widow. Psa. 82:3; Isa. 1:17.
  5. Curses and Punishments will befall those who neglect or cause affliction to the fatherless and widows. Deut 27:19; Job 31:16-23; Mal. 3:5.
  6. We should visit orphans and widows in their trouble. James 1:27.
  7. Honor widows who are really widows (those 60 years old and up and been the wife of one man). 1 Tim. 5:3, 9.

    15D - Handicapped

    1. We are not to curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind. Lev. 19:14.
    2. Cursed be he that causes the blind to wander out of the way. Deut 27:18.
    3. We are to invite the maimed, the lame and the blind to our feasts. Luke 14:13.
    4. Show respect for the aged. Lev. 19:32; 1 Tim. 5:1.
    5. You should support and help the weak. Acts 20:35; Rom. 15:1.

      15E - Providing For The Poor

      1. A small portion of crops are to remain unharvested or unpicked so that they may be left for the poor and fatherless to take. Lev. 19:9-10; Lev. 23:22; Deut. 24:19-21.
      2. At the end of three years all of the tithes of the people's increase for the year are to be gathered together and given to and eaten by the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. Deut. 14:28-29; Deut 26:12.
      3. That of which you have extra is to be shared with the needy. Luke 3:11.
      4. The hungry, when they come to a neighbor's vineyard, may eat their fill of grapes, but shall not put any in their basket. Deut 23:24.
      5. Give to every man that asks and needs, for whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return. Luke 6:30, 38.
      6. The needy may enter their neighbor's grain fields and corn fields and pluck the crop by hand, but shall not cut down the crop with a sickle. Deut. 23:25.
      7. Individual offerings, donations, and contributions are to be given according to the purpose that one's heart leads, giving to the poor willingly. Lev. 25:35; Deut. 15:7-8; 2 Cor. 9:7.

      15F - Causes of Poverty

      1. Poverty is derived from laziness and a lack of work effort. Prov. 6:10-11; Prov. 19:15, 24; Prov. 20:4; Prov. 21:25; Prov. 24:30-34; 2 Cor. 9:6; 2 Thes. 3:8-12.
      2. He who loves pleasure will become a poor man. Prov. 21:17.
      3. Poverty will come to him who refuses instruction and is unwilling to learn. Prov. 13:18.
      4. He who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. Prov. 28:19.
      5. Idle chatter leads only to poverty. Prov. 14:23.
      6. Poverty will come to the drunkard and the glutton. Prov. 23:21.
      7. He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches will surely come to poverty. Prov. 22:16.
      8. Poverty caused by love of sleep. Prov. 6:9-11; Prov. 20:13.
      9. God will not allow the soul of the righteous to famish, but He casts away the substance of the wicked. Prov. 10:3.
      10. He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand, but into the hand of the diligent comes wealth. Prov. 10:4.

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