Verses such as Proverbs 29:7 remind us to “consider the cause of the poor”. As Christians, we are under a Biblical mandate to help relieve the suffering of the poor. However, this does not extend to persons who refuse to work to provide for themselves. In II Thes 3:10-12 we are commanded to work to provide our own bread to the extent possible and that if any person refuses to work neither should they eat. We do a disservice to any poor person who we provide sustenance who could otherwise…provide for themselves. Rather we should encourage them to be diligent in providing for themselves – this for their own good. “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4.
Even for the poor who merit charity it is good to make them do some work in return for the help if possible. Leviticus 19:9-10 instructed the Israelites that as they were gathering the harvest to leave a portion of the harvest for the poor to reap. It is interesting to note that they did not gather it for the poor but left a portion for the poor to gather themselves. This is a far cry from our current practice of giving government welfare checks without any work in return which can encourage idleness in our able-bodied unemployed. Perhaps we should require some work to get a welfare check such as cleaning up our parks or government buildings. This work requirement would be as much for the poor’s benefit as for ours.