He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered (Prov.21:13).
For you always have the poor with you… (Mat.26:11).
What we see today in relation to welfare (and a number of other things) in the West, is a consequence of church disobedience and inaction, going back over multiple generations. God has sent the locusts and hornets of socialism, to remind us that when His people are disobedient to Him, there are painful consequences.
We have ignored His commands given through Biblical law in relation to the poor, along with many other perennial issues of any society, and thus we find ourselves with effective taxation rates of 30-50%, and it is painful for us.
It is good that it is painful for us. Why?
Because the pain drives us to seek a solution. This is what the Psalmist said he had done:
Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your Word (Ps.119:67).
What we have neglected is Biblical responsibility, so that is the very thing that must characterise our action from here on. That will mean taking the Biblical commands concerning the poor and Christian care of them, seriously. It will mean growth in responsibility in the church, especially with the use of the tithe, so that the truly needy in the church, along with the deserving poor in the community, are shown a measure of care.
It is foolish to think of overnight transformation, because that rarely happens. What can and should happen, is the steady change of attitude, so that we begin to think more Biblically, and we act out of those thoughts.
Take this verse:
A father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation (Ps.68:5).
Here, God identifies two groups in the community that He wants to protect. Implicitly, we are supposed to, too. God, “in His holy habitation” (the church) requires it. We take action to protect them, and we establish the terms. (This is what Paul commences in I Timothy 5:3-16.) Thus men in the community who father illegitimate children are supposed to pay for their maintenance. You father them-you feed them. We proceed from the theory to the practical: always a good idea.
Husbands who abandon their wives should be financially liable for this; the innocent parties should always be protected, because this is what Biblical law does. It upholds their rights before the law. Thus the church officers work very hard for reconciliation of spouses when there are marriage disputes or separations, because the upholding of marriage and the protection of the innocent parties and victims’ rights (and the children are victims in divorce, too) is of great importance.
Does the Bible tells us to do this? Absolutely.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy (Prov.31:8-9).
If justice is important to God (and it most certainly is) it should be important to His people, too. For the scripture declares that
Marriage is to be held in honour among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Heb.13:4).
You didn’t think the church should get involved in this?
Well, if we don’t get involved, we abandon the institution of marriage, when the scripture plainly says, “it is to be held in honour among all.” This means we have to actively protect marriages from adulterers, fornicators, men who desert their families, and other abusers, and from every attempt to water down its importance, and this includes No Fault Divorce laws.
Countless studies have shown that children raised in a two-parent traditional family are less likely to be raised in poverty, less likely to do drugs, less likely to be criminals later in life, and more likely to graduate from and do well in school. The evidence is overwhelming, no culture can remain healthy with illegitimacy rates like these….it is impossible to overstate the socially catastrophic consequences of illegitimacy. The traditional family is still the best department of health, education and welfare ever invented.
The elders in the church cannot sit on their hands when there is a problem. They are responsible to do all they can to nip family problems in the bud, by firstly teaching on the family and the church. And in this, we should commence in Genesis, where we find the first husband and wife, and a husband who neglects his responsibilities before God.
Family teaching has been neglected in the church, so what happens? The family declines. It loses its vision of what we are supposed to be doing, and so the rafters start to sag. Couples have their problems that don’t get resolved, and then you have a separation or divorce. Oh well.
We need to stop saying, “Oh well,” and begin to act preventatively. Elders need to be confident in their roles to step in when there is a problem. This will involve the elders and their wives involving themselves in helping individuals, but more importantly beginning to act from a basis of biblical teaching, giving the church members an ideological foundation for family life.
The Bible encourages us about the importance of action in a crisis:
Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” does He not consider it who weighs the heart? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? (Prov.10:11-12)
Women need help to be good wives, and they should be able to get this help from other, older women in the church.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behaviour, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonoured (Tit.2:3-5).
The church is the institution that Jesus Christ died for. This means that we should take the care and protection of its members very seriously. The innocent are to be protected under Biblical law from abusers and other criminals, some of whom may lurk within the walls of the church.
In fact, protecting the church from wolves and thieves is just as important as evangelism. What use is it to bring lambs into the sanctuary of the fold, unless they come under the protection of the fold?
Leave your orphans behind, I will keep them alive; and let your widows trust in Me (Jer.49:11).