Prejudice and the Poor

A pastor’s wife I met was harboring a considerable amount of bitterness against the poor who receive benefits from the government. She works hard, but her family is just above the poverty line that would qualify them for those benefits. She deeply resented this and she complained to me that she had to drive through a snowstorm to get to work while other didn’t have to work at all to be supported. This is a common attitude that many harbor against people on welfare. What they fail to realize is that there are work requirements for people on welfare, unless they are elderly or disabled.

For those like this pastor’s wife who resented that she had to work without being able to qualify for those benefits, she needed to realize that when she works she is contributing to her retirement benefits through social security. The more she works, the more money she will get. This program was instigated to help the poor have some retirement money because it is extremely difficult for low income people to save enough and still provide for their daily needs because of the increasing costs of living. She is also, through her taxes, helping to support a social safety net that she, or her children or grandchildren may need someday. Circumstances can change in a heartbeat. Illness or a natural disaster can render anyone into a category requiring some government assistance.

Too many people, especially some Christians, have embraced the stereotyped image of people on welfare as people who don’t work. Therefore they actively try to influence their politicians into cutting these programs, without realizing that many people who need help are seniors, the physically disabled, mentally challenged and many others who would like to work but can’t because of other challenges. I know of one woman for example, who has to care for her paraplegic son, and needs to work because her benefits are always being cut, but can’t because she doesn’t have anyone to look after her child.

The welfare to work program gets people who can work off of welfare and this program works very well. It has successfully reduced the amount of people who were on welfare, including a friend of mine. She is a Christian. Her husband abandoned her and their two small children. Because of your tax dollars she was able to get training and she is now a teacher and can support her family.

Because of your tax dollars, low income seniors and other poor people, can get lifesaving medications they would otherwise not be able to receive.

One excuse I heard from someone was that this person did not want her tax dollars going to people who didn’t serve God and were His enemies. Aside from the fact that there are many God fearing Christians that the Lord is helping through these programs, (just as He provides through your secular job) we are to view those outside of God’s kingdom as Jesus sees them. He didn’t shun them, He ate with them, much to the chagrin of the religious Pharisees. The scripture also counsel us; - Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in doing this you shall heap coals of fire on his head (Romans 12:20). The coals of fire is a reference to a custom of the day. People would sell coal door to door carrying it on their heads. The coals of fire thus indicates placing a blessing on the head of the enemies we are instructed to care for.

God promises protection to the individual or nation that takes care of the poor. Without the weapon of compassion that keeps the wall of God’s protection surrounding the United States, all our perceived defenses will eventually come crashing down.

Considering that there are more scriptures concerning God's care for the poor than any other moral issue in the Bible, we need to guard our hearts from any form of prejudice against those whom God has chosen to favor.

Jesus said “The poor you will have with you always” (Matthew 26:11). One reason for that is God has ordained them to be our tests. Our attitude toward the poor will determine whether or not we fail or pass that test.

Copyright 2018 by H.D. Shively

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