The Bible and the Government ~ What about helping the poor?

You probably know that my husband and I are fairly involved in politics and so we usually watch the presidential debates, the VP. debates as well as more local ones. In the debates I find there to be a lot of talk on helping the poor, making sure everyone has health care, early childhood education, the list goes on and on. Our leaders to be are always trying to figure out how they can make sure everyone is cared for by the government.

While I am not going to go to deeply into this, I do really want to look at the Bible and some verses there to see what it says about this issue.

Concerning helping the poor:

"How blessed is he who considers the helpless (or poor);
The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble."
Psalm 41:1

Helping the poor and helpless is good not just for them but for us as well. We need to always be remembering that it could as well be us in that situation.

"He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord,
And he will repay him for his good deed."
Proverbs 19:17

When talking to the righteous rich young ruler...

Jesus said to him. "If you wish to be complete,
go and sell your possessions
and give to the poor,
and you shall have treasure in heaven;
and come, follow me."
Matt. 19:21

There have been poor people for almost since time began and I think there always will be. We do find from scripture that we will be blessed when we help them. Also if we have much and our greedy, God does not look favorably on that!


The Bible does have a lot to say about how the poor should act:

"For even when we were with you,
we use to give you this order;
if anyone will not work,
neither let him eat.
For we hear that some among you are leading
an undisciplined life,
doing no work at all,
but acting like busybodies"
2 Thessalonians 3:10-11

This verse may sound a little harsh but it is what the Bible says, not me. I think it still applies today. There are many that are leading undisciplined lives and not working and expecting others to take care of them. For the good of themselves and the nation, I think this verse should be applied.

"Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer,
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep , a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest -
And poverty will come in like a vagabond,
And your need like an armed man."
Proverbs 6:6-11

For some other verses on the subject check out Proverbs 10:3-5 and Prov. 20:13.

In the New Testament church they had a method for taking care of widows. They took them food and stuff like that. I found it very interesting however that they had qualifications for who could and could not be on the list to be helped. (You can find it in 1 Timothy 5:3-16)

Here are some of the qualifications:

  • If she has children or grandchildren, they need to take care of her instead of her going on the list. The 8th verse says: "If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." We again have some pretty plain language.
  • She needs to be a woman of prayer and not given to wanton (wanton means: without regard to what is right or sexually unrestrained) pleasure.
  • She has to be over 60.
  • She needs to have only been married to one man, be known for her good works, raising of children, hospitality to strangers, taking care of the saints and those in distress and just in general having devoted herself to every good work.

My personal opinion is that we do need to be helping out those that we see in need around us, but I also think that those that are just continually sponging off of others (or the government) and not working need to face reality and learn to show some personal responsibility. The government is breeding laziness into society. Also the church has a responsibility as well.

What are your thoughts on this subject?