Published in Cumberland Times-News Wednesday, October 19, 2011.
"Christ tells of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), who showers mercy on one victimized by thievery and lawlessness. The Samaritan shares his wealth to help, directly where the need is. This genuine activism springs from heartfelt concern and charity."My Sept. 29 letter (‘Hey, lady! Can you spare me a penny?’) suggests, tongue-in-cheek, that Bill O’Reilly and the president should try panhandling, to test reasonableness of a one percent national sales tax. In response, Adam Robinette (“Just what is an ‘eccentricity,’ anyway?” Oct. 6) defends lifestyles of the homeless and insists that we all should freely hand our cash over to beggars to spend as they wish.
I relate examples of two real panhandlers to illustrate that we should be wary of folks who appeal to our sympathies with intent to part us from our hard-earned cash, and then spend it in questionable ways.
Mr. Robinette points out that beggars threaten us less than armed robbers do. I believe, in the cases of O’Reilly’s suggested tax and the president’s socialistic jobs bill, any initiative to persuade hard-working Americans to forfeit more cash to fund expansive government spending is tantamount to robbery.
Mr. Robinette says Christians should not judge – particularly when giving to beggars for needs unknown.
Jesus does tell us, “Judge not” (Matthew 7:1), in the context that we should not condemn others (as Mr. Robinette does Christians), because we always have work to do on our own souls.
Jesus also advises us to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16) and discern foes who would deceive and entangle us in ungodliness (Matthew 10:17).
Christians should give alms, discretely and heroically, as the poor widow does (Mark 12:41-44); but as Mr. Robinette admits, money in their hands does not empower beggars to improve their lot. In fact, I believe it can promote disordered lifestyles and, therefore, is not a kindhearted gift.
Similarly, socialism – blatant in the president’s proposal to tax the rich to aid the poor -- is not Christ-like.
Christ brings us God’s help, particularly in hardship (Romans 5:1-11). God’s heavenly aid comforts, guides and provides for us, according to our needs (Matthew 6:25-34); of course, we must do our part to help ourselves.
Socialism presumes we are helpless, and hopeless. It forcibly takes from one and hands to others. It is thievery and lawlessness.
Compassion, on the other hand, in its urge to redeem, exemplifies true love. Christ tells of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), who showers mercy on one victimized by thievery and lawlessness. The Samaritan shares his wealth to help, directly where the need is. This genuine activism springs from heartfelt concern and charity.
Moreover, through Christ’s apostle Paul, we see that community flourishes when we contribute our God given skills for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:3-14, 20, 27) and when we lovingly share resources -- wisely, as needed, and all for the glory of God (Acts 4:32-37). This is no testament to socialism (or communism), but an example of a generous, faith-filled community.
Jesus required his followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor (Matthew 19:21), not as a command to sustain the poor, but to teach his disciples to shed attachments that would detract from their devotion to his ministry: Exhorting sinners to repent, reform and return to God.
Many religious communities today rely on contributions from benefactors, and require members to embrace poverty. Worldly orthodox Christians, though, as opposed to Christian (or atheist) socialists, believe we each own our earnings, the fruits of our labors, and -- other than taxes levied to build a stable, secure and prosperous nation -- we hold the right to determine how to save, spend or share our resources.
Neither Mr. Robinette, nor the president, has authority to tell us how to help the poor, who will always be with us (Mark 14:7).