There are three kinds of poor in the world: those who can’t help themselves, those who are down on their luck, and those who won’t help themselves. Since a Christian should be able to discern between the three and help accordingly, this post serves to provide a simple definition.
The first group of poor are those who can’t work. For whatever reason, they are unable to help themselves. They may be sick, handicapped, or elderly. These are the people that Christians are instructed to help and care for. This is not an issue. It’s well-known by Christians and non-Christians alike.
The second group of poor are those who can’t work, but want to. They’re simply down on their luck. Maybe they’ve been injured and are unable to work at the moment. Maybe they’ve been laid off, and they’re in search of a new job. There are programs out there to help people who are down on their luck and, again, that’s a good thing.
The third group of poor who are capable of working, but won’t. This is where the problem lies. From a purely Christian standpoint, consider the following verses:
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, ESV).
When we hear about Christians helping the poor, we very seldom hear that there is an exception, but that’s exactly what we find in the Bible. An exception. Why shouldn’t we help the lazy? Because instead of being busy, they’re being busybodies: people who meddle or pry into the affairs of others. Instead of working quietly, earning their own living and hopefully helping those who are in real need, they stir up dissension and discord.
Note: After writing this, I was convinced it wasn’t a very good post. See the follow up Is Giving Always Good for what I feel is a more accurate depiction of 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.