A face book friend of mine posted a question in response to this video that I posted earlier today. The comment section was to small for my answer- so I decided to post it as a (long) blog.
The Question (a very good one indeed!):
Do you think that its evil for people to work hard to em-better themselves (aka making money retirements, savings, and having there right to choose their own health care) if people didn’t have these things then you couldn’t help others with charity which I don’t like to use that word. Better put would be helping them get on their feet. I mean just as long as you aren’t taking advantage of people to make your money. The entity that is keeping the people down is the government they make the people dependent on them. If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. I don’t want to start an argument that’s just my two cents in it…
So, here man! As you respectfully asked, I respectfully answer:
Difficult balance, many answers:
The first is that a Christian is not out to better himself. We are told that the Lord makes much of the humble (Psalm 147:6). We are also told that there is nothing good within us (Romans 3). So any good that we do is of the Father (James 1:17). Furthermore- 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the need that Christians have for one another.
Thus, it is not a “me and Jesus” faith- it is a “Jesus and us” faith. Part of being in that family of believers means that you look out for each other. Is the (western) Church doing this well?- No. But that does not subtract from the clear need of serving others. Also- we are told to work (“be taught how to fish” in your metaphor) 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says that those who will not work should not receive food- these are the ones who neglect responsibility, enjoy the aid that they receive, and just sit around and do nothing in return. But we do help those who are truly in need (the fatherless, homeless, disenfranchised, etc.) It is a terrible farce that God can’t help you if you don’t help your self. He won’t remove suffering, but He will see you through it (Rom. 8.28; Phil. 1.6; 2 Cor. 12.9-10)
But for ourselves- as Chan said, it means that we accept living paycheck to paycheck if need be. True, it is possible to be a wealthy person to the glory of Christ. But we must be careful in doing so. It is easy to say- “When I get more money in the bank, I’ll help them out” But Jesus says otherwise- he said (to those who were claiming to follow him):
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16.10-11) (as a sidenote- true riches does not mean money- but the first verse does reflect on how we handle money that has been entrusted to us)
So the poor who neglect to help others are not going to become generous wealthy people. But because of the love of God and the changing power of His grace- His followers can give much to His service (time, money, energy) it takes a sacrifice- Jesus never promised wealth- but promised pain and suffering on earth for the sake of eternal peace and joyous rest in him (later).
The true Gospel
Therefore- Jesus said- “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14.27) elsewhere he told a rich man to sell all he had and give to the poor… the rich man never did. (Matt. 19.21). He never told anyone else to sell all- because it is not the requirement for salvation– repenting and turning from one’s idols and following the Christ of the Bible is the only way to be saved.
At last… the point?
All that to say- evil to have money? a retirement fund? savings? No. Not always. Is it an idol? What do you do when you don’t have it? What is your idol in your life?
What you would refuse to give up for Christ is what keeps you from him. Consider the early Christians (and those around the world still having the same fate). They sold their wealth for believers in need- regardless of what background they came from or need they had. The love of Christ was enough to persuade them to act. Or as Paul says in Titus 3.8-
“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works…”
This includes persecution! You said, “The entity that is keeping the people down is the government, they make the people dependent on them” The Christians in the early Church suffered greatly under the same entity! But somehow Christianity became the largest religion in the world. We call that the work of the Spirit! We cannot rely on our wealth, security, or anything like that. Any such reliance leads to distrusting Christ.