Monday, June 15, 2009
A Different Perspective on Social Welfare
5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever,
7 Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.
8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down. (Psalm 146:5-9)
"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, ...The LORD loves the righteous, ... but the way of the wicked He turns upside down." Those who put their trust in the God of Jacob are declared righteous by the Lord. Their righteousness is a gift; they are declared righteous on the basis of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.
To these ones who have been declared righteous, God reveals Himself as the Lord:
1. Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them;
2. Who keeps truth forever;
3. Who executes justice for the oppressed;
4. Who gives food to the hungry;
5. Who gives freedom to the prisoners;
6. Who opens the eyes of the blind;
7. Who raises those who are bowed down;
8. Who watches over the strangers;
9. Who relieves the fatherless and widow.
We are not called to indiscriminate social welfare; nor is this a mandate for civil government programs to strip the wealthy and redistribute to every one who puts their hand up claiming human rights. However, God commissions us to preach the Gospel, and wherever there is a response of trust and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to share the Lord's blessing upon our lives in these various ways: we are to teach them concerning all things that the Lord has made; we are to explain life from the perspective of God's Truth; we are to pursue justice on behalf of the righteous marginalized; we are to share food with the righteous poor; we are to work for the release of the righteous imprisoned (spiritually through deliverance, in the soul through discipleship, and physically through the court system); we are to work and pray for the regaining of sight of the righteous blind (surgery for the physically blind, and Bible Study for the spiritually blind); we are to exhort and encourage the righteous who are bowed down; we are to take care of the righteous immigrant (instructing them in the language of the host country, advocating for them, providing family support for them, and so on); and we are to relieve the burdens heaped upon those who are righteous widows and orphans.
I cannot do this for millions of people over there. I cannot do this for the thousands who are somewhere in my country. However, I can do this for those whom God brings to me on a day-to-day basis. Over time, hundreds of people have been through my home, have sat at my table, have eaten from my fridge, have heard the Gospel, have had the Scriptures expounded, have been prayed for, and have departed my home having been blessed. Of recent days I visit the prison. If I didn't have to pay so much of my income in tax, I would be able to do more for those righteous poor within my scope of influence.
The wicked are those who refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter how much social welfare is directed to them, there will be no change in the outcomes of their lives. God turns their lives upside down. Indiscriminate, "non-judgemental" social welfare is inefficient, and ultimately impoverishes the community. On the other hand, God's agenda targets the righteous poor: the giver is blessed for their giving, and the receiver is blessed in their need; and in all the process, the Lord is glorified. Praise the Lord!