We've all see the signs and status updates on Facebook and comments around the web:
"If you can afford beer, cigarettes, new tattoos, drugs and cable TV ... Then you don't need food-stamps or welfare."
Two things about this bother me. The first is this: most of the folks posting this status or carrying these signs are those who are complaining about the 99% and Occupy Wall Street movements because they say it's no one else's business what they earn or how they spend what they have or what they own. While they don't want anyone scrutinizing their finances and spending, they turn around and want to control what other people spend and inspect their finances. Hmmm, I know there's a word that perfectly describes this.....
Secondly, every single person on this planet has the desire, almost the need, to be able to have some things in their lives that are not just the basic necessities. We all need a few little extras, call them extravagances if you'd like, in our lives. Now, I know the biggest defense is going to be that those on food stamps and welfare are getting their money from those who are making those statements so therefore they have a right to decide whether those people should continue to get the assistance if they can afford those other things. Ehhhh! The Bible tells us once we give our money it is no longer ours and we do not have the right to say how it is spent. And I know those people will claim they're not willingly giving this money, it's their taxes, so therefore they retain the right to complain. Really?
Of course these are the same people who claim the government shouldn't be administering food stamps or welfare, that it's not the governments place to provide for the citizens of this country. That's all well and good, and the fact is, they're right. The church and the individuals in the church were given the command by Jesus to do what the government is now doing through the food stamp and welfare programs. The problem is the church and the individuals stopped doing it so the government stepped in to take care of it. Had we, the Christians in this country, lived up to what Jesus told us to do we wouldn't be having this conversation.
It's almost as if these people think those who are on food stamps and welfare should be allowed to starve to death or be homeless rather than the government giving them assistance. And I know they think no one on assistance should have anything like cable TV, the internet, cell phones, flat screen TVs, etc. Absolutely no "luxuries" are allowed, in their opinion. I'd love to see them live their lives without the "luxuries" that are actually outside their income level! I wonder how many of them have purchased the things they have on credit because they didn't have the cash to buy them? See, that's equally wrong. Check the Bible!
The fact is that none of us are supposed to be worrying about what anyone else has or does, etc. What Christ taught us was that we are to concentrate on our own lives and live according to the principles that He taught us. Scriptures such as Matthew 7:5, Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Philippians 2:12, Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 1 Timothy 5:13, And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
And yes, I can hear the voices now: "You're doing the exact same thing you're saying not to do in this very blog post!" Well, not really. What I'm doing is not pointing to an individual or a group saying "don't, don't don't"; what I am doing is teaching a lesson from the Bible on how we (yes, I'm preaching to myself here, as well) are supposed to act and not supposed to act.
I think it's time that we, the Body of Christ, begin to act like the Bride we are. What kind of example are we setting for the lost when we're doing the same things they do while telling them to stop doing those things?