Charity or Thievery

By Joel Krogen –

Are Christians spiritually and intellectually lazy? Do they understand what the Scripture actually teaches about life, in particular, life in the public square?

There was a letter from a woman in my local newspaper that excoriated Republicans for their plans to pass laws that “ignore Jesus’ teachings to love our neighbor, heal the sick, and feed the hungry.”

Don’t misunderstand this article; the Republican Party is dead to me, as is the Democrat Party. All elected Democrats are socialists, and almost all elected Republicans are socialists who just won’t say the word. That’s no surprise given the sinful human nature and the insatiable quest for power and control which accompanies it. Socialism is a perfect fit for the old Adam—it’s based on theft.

However, Christians are supposed to know better than to live that way. Christians are supposed to be guided by and live according to the Word of God.

Charity is a wonderful thing. It’s a way for Christian people to live as “little Christs,” as Martin Luther describes God’s children. Many congregations gather to feed people, make quilts for people living without the comfort that we in the United States take for granted, and provide after-school care for children in their communities. That’s great!

These are things Christians do in their vocations as people of Jesus to show their love for Him and those around them. They come from the heart and are done in service to God—people serving God in faith.

Anything done outside of faith is not a good work in God’s sight. It might have the appearance of goodness and even benefit others, which is a good civil work, but nothing done by those who ignore the Word of God is good in His sight.

The woman who complained that government power might not be exercised to carry out good works had no understanding of Jesus’ teaching. She is one of many “Christians” who embrace socialism, patting herself on the back because she uses other people (legislators) to take property from one neighbor to “help” her other neighbor instead of actually helping the second neighbor herself and preserving and protecting the first neighbor’s property and income (remember the Catechism?).

Being a Christian is hard. Jesus said it would be and—surprise—it really is. Being a Christian means following the teaching of Jesus no matter how much it offends others, how difficult it is to defend before those who care little or nothing for what He says, how much it goes against our sinful human nature, or how much of an inconvenience it is.

Christians are not to be thieves, but givers. They are not to take advantage of those who give to Caesar, but give to Caesar what is his and give to God what is His. This means that charity begins with you—not you and whomever you can find who will carry out your will through the threat of prison. Charity isn’t charity when you use a gun to do it.

Fruit of the Spirit includes mercy, generosity, loving-kindness, selflessness. Those who serve the Lord do so in the joy of their salvation.

Christian charity is a consequence of new life in Christ. It not under the dominion of the Law. Any attempt to make it so is confusing the two kingdoms—God ruling through government and God ruling in His Church (that’s another article).

It’s mysterious how many “Christians” think they are entitled to take the bread from one man and give it to another. These are the same people who abhor the fact that tax money goes to Planned Parenthood.

According to the ‘Christian’ socialist, the difference is that the “Christian” has a just cause and therefore should take the property of one person to give to another. Those Planned Parenthood types, well, they have no business doing the same.

Sorry, but the Planned Parenthood folks make the same argument. No, it’s not Biblical, but neither is the “Christian” socialist philosophy of righteous thievery.

Planned Parenthood (an oxymoronic statement of death wrapped in euphemism) indeed is of the devil and deserves no support, but neither does the idea that Christians should force other people to pay for—and do—the work the Lord has called them to do.

People are lazy by nature, and Christians are no exception. Even as children of God, we share all the weaknesses of our unbelieving neighbors, which makes being Christian difficult. It’s easier to grill on the deck with a cold beer than be bothered with bringing a meal to the single mother down the street who works while her children are at home. Instead, why not force other people to provide that meal? That way, it doesn’t interfere with my time.

We can’t eliminate need in the world, as much as we would like to. That won’t happen until Christ returns. We only can live as little Christs, personally serving our neighbors in love, doing so in the knowledge that Jesus so loved us that He gave His life for us. In the Christian life, this is called sacrifice. It is giving of self for the sake of Christ and the good of the neighbor.

Love expressed by force in collective terms is merely cheap and lazy love and is not really love at all.

Let us not cheapen the blessings of the Lord, nor profane His teaching, by manipulating His gifts to others for our own self-righteous ends.

It is better to give than to practice thievery and claim generosity.

*Joel is the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Batesville AR and a friend of The Jagged Word.

3 comments

  1. Pastor Joel, you wrongly associate taxation with Luther’s exhortation to protect the neighbor’s life and property. Taxation is an inextricable way for the worldly kingdom to operate in its best way to protect the citizenry. To suggest that these are moral equivalents is to fall into the trap of the republican-christian (both lower case) cult. This cult, since the 1920’s has suggested that ‘socialism’ is somehow morally inferior and un-Christian to redistribute wealth. In fact, Luther, in his pamphlet “May a Christian Rightly Flee a Deadly Plague,” suggests openly that governments ought to care for the needy, as it makes much more sense than individuals or congregations to attempt to do alone. According to Luther, in this text, the Christian’s obligation to the neighbor is not always to directly care for the neighbor but to ascertain if her needs are being met. The implication here, is that Luther accepted the role of government as an efficient way to guarantee the needy are sustained. I would also like to point out that the logical conclusion of your cultic claim that socialism is morally inferior to capitalism is that the individual who receives goods and services from socialism is morally inferior to the rugged individual.

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  2. I have watched my children be lured into the socialist mindset by their peers and liberal minded school instructors. They have both been taught at home to earn their own way, and to be generous to those around them who are in need, yet those teachings have been misapplied by their peers. My daughter defended Sanders in the last election as did my son. Socialism is a moral issue insofar as a realistic expectation of human depravity is entered into the calculus. Concentration of power corrupts, and in economically socialist societies where it is applied they are less efficient than capitalist systems both in creating wealth and distributing goods because of this problem. If you had truly altruistic leaders all the way down the pipeline it would be a wonderful system, but since we are not naturally altruistic, it is a recipe for disaster and rank corruption. Corruption also exists in competing social systems, however the concentration of power inherent in socialism is a insurmountable problem in this fallen world. Insofar as who I am responsible to help as a Christian, I help my neighbor as God has given me the ability to do and my children have witnessed this both in my teaching and in my practice. Socialism is not, to my mind, helping my neighbor, but rather in the long run harming him.

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  3. Has anyone noticed that the Biblical purpose of government is to keep order and punish the wrong-doer? We owe that authority, given by God, honor because it is given for that purpose – including taxes. Taking somebody’s stuff to give someone else is not that, and it is in fact much closer to tyranny than socialists would ever consider. It certainly isn’t charitable or Christian-minded. Even old Abe Lincoln said something about extracting the gains of another’s work for another’s benefit – he was talking about slavery. I don’t know about calling every government official a socialist – there’s probably some hope there even yet; but I’m with Joel on this.

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