If you don’t work…

Today, someone quoted Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians in which he says “if any would not work, neither should he eat.

This quote (or at least, this sentiment) is used a lot to support welfare reform in the United States, so I was amused when I found that the Wikipedia article “He who does not work, neither shall he eat” was part of the Socialism Portal and included quotes from the Soviet Constitution:

In the USSR work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”

In this presidential political season, the term “Socialist” has been bandied about a bit too easily by the president’s critics. My wife pointed out, though, that it is a good thing Jesus didn’t read Paul’s admonition before feeding the multitude of irresponsible adults with food from a (relatively) responsible child’s knapsack.

5 thoughts on “If you don’t work…”

  1. Hm, don’t think it applies? Jesus seems to give exemptions (e.g. Mary vs. Martha) to those who aren’t working if they’re listening to Him… 🙂

    1. How do i judge who it applies to and who it doesn’t?

      I figure it is just better for me to avoid judging incorrectly.

      And to be really good at judging, i would have to learn a lot about their personal lives. Which is a lot of work.

      It is probably wiser to just avoid it.

  2. Oops, should have been more clear that I was referring only to Jesus’ feeding of the multitude. Agreed about reserving judgment for others. Which works if you’re not a government employee in charge of welfare, etc. 🙂

  3. If you read the parables of Jesus, those who only worked 1 hour in the vineyard got to eat (1 day’s wages) as well as those who had worked all day. Even the OT provided for low income people to eat plenty: those who gathered much manna did not have too much, and those who gathered little did not have too little. If you like to collect manna, share some and have more fun. I’ve given away 3 libraries of books in my life and have enjoyed it. (Like I plan to read all those books over and over anyway, right?) When the early church gave to the poor, the Levites started converting. Maybe more government officials would be saved if the church engaged with the poor more locally. I work in county government and am finding LOTS of opportunities to shine brightly and impact society while serving the most vulnerable population: folks with mental illnesses who die 25 years younger than average. Does Jesus care about such souls? Certainly, but he also wants them to lose weight and quit smoking and drink less soda pop so their blood sugars get under control. If you love someone, you will help them learn to exercise self-control. I’m not on disability despite some serious periods of hospitalization, but not everyone has as loving and as supportive of a family as me. That said, I’d like to see more people working at least part time. It helps with socialization and having a sense of purpose in life, even if only volunteer work sorting canned goods for food banks. Remembering the least.

  4. Jesus fed the multitude of 5,000 … and the next day when they all came running up to Him, He said, “You are only coming for the food.” He fed them because “they will faint on the way home.” And miracles are miracles because they are not common.
    They are a picture of God’s grace and mercy to us.
    Today I was struck with this: Before the last week Jesus sent His disciples twice to have someone give Him something. Go and take the donkey and tell the owner “the Master has need of the it.” And then Go follow the man with the pitcher of water and say “the Master has need of a room for the Passover Feast.”
    They gave to the Master’s need.
    The disciples had to go DO something.
    I think it is the balance. For 40 years of feeding the Israelites in the wilderness … God gave them manna but they had to gather it and do so as He said. A miracle of food with the necessity of work to eat. This was not like the feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000 because it was a daily provision, so they had daily work.
    For the feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000 God showed his love and Mercy and gave freely to an immediate need (and to demonstrate Jesus is God, He is our provider and the Bread of Life) … but afterward someone was working, gathering up the food for later, which was not the way manna worked. And again in the feeding, someone had to give from their labor … the bread and fish used each time.
    Even Martha’s food prep was not a scolding for preparing the food (doing the work) but being so caught up in it that she forgot the worship, the time of relating to the Savior. Fixing food for the company was more important than the company. Why have a feast when you can just fix a simple meal and enjoy the time with the Savior (or company). There is a struggle to which I can relate.

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