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.