There has been much talk in the news about President Trump’s proposed budget cuts for fiscal year 2020. Many people are alarmed that the proposal released on Monday suggest’s slash funding for social safety net programs and spending billions more dollars on the US military and immigration enforcement.
God is a just God and is very concerned about humanity. Scripture reveals a great deal about God’s heart towards the poor and needy. Christians are encouraged to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9).
God speaks often of the poor and needy. He commands us to give generously to and speak up on their behalf. Scripture tells us that it’s always more blessed to give than receive. Let’s take a look at what the Word of God has to say about helping the less fortunate and destitute. All Scriptures below are taken from the English Standard Version:
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.— Proverbs 22:22-23
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.
— Proverbs 3:27-28
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
— Proverbs 11:25
is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
— Proverbs 14:21
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. — Proverbs 14:31
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. — Proverbs 19:17
The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. — Proverbs 22:9
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. — Proverbs 28:27
It doesn’t take much insight to see the heart of God towards the poor and needy. He takes up their cause and judges fairly and equitably. Social benefit programs are designed to meet the needs of the American population. These programs may include cash assistance, healthcare and medical provisions, food assistance, housing subsidies, energy and utilities subsidies, education and childcare assistance, and subsidies and assistance for other basic services to assist the needy. They are designed to protect low-income Americans from poverty and hardship. Without this assistance, many lower income families and the elderly would not be able to survive, let alone thrive in an ever increasing society where many middle income families are living from pay check to pay check.
In a Forbes article “78% Of Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck” it noted that “CareerBuilder found that 78% of U.S. workers are living paycheck to paycheck.” And that this number may have been “exacerbated by the recent federal government shutdown, which has resulted in more than 800,000 federal employees not receiving paychecks.” The struggle is real! Many people in this country are one missed paycheck away from financial ruin.
Is it government’s responsibility alone? No, society as a whole which includes government, communities, the church, and people should be able to work together for the common of all. I’m not advocating socialism, just genuine heartfelt love and generosity towards humanity. God loves good and hates evil. God loves justice. There is an old adage that says, “God helps those who help themselves.” Yet, the Word of God says God is a Helper, “ For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper” (Ps. 72:12 ESV).
Concern for the well being of “less fortunate” or “least of these”important to Jesus. He said in Matthew 25 in the Parable of the Sheep’s and Goats that “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matt. 25:31-36).
The righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ Jesus replies in verse 40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ He replied in verse 45 to those whose asked “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ by saying, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
We must learn to extend ourselves beyond our own needs and security just as Jesus did. We must be intentional about helping one another for the common good of all. I pray that the President and his Administration, as well as Congress, will consider the importance and necessity of these programs in light of Word and God’s will for humanity. If we are wiling to spend billions on a border wall to defend this nation from purported evil, yet not spend what’s necessary to protect citizens from the evils of poverty, lack or homelessness that does not reflect the founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. God has given human beings life, dignity, liberty, and the capacity for rewarding work and meaningful relationships.
There is coming a time when a separation will take place between the sheep and goat (righteous and unrighteous) nations and people. The standard by which Jesus judged was what each of these nations or people did for the “least of these.”
All Scripture is taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.