Rich, Poor, Fairness, and the Bible

Back to work. And what better way to restart the blogging than to fill a request from a former student? Who can resist an opening like “I wonder what my former theology professor would say about this”?

The issue is one of growing concern for Christians and non-Christians alike. It has to do with the growing disparity of income between the very wealthy and the rest. But this particular round in the on-going battle began with an interview of Rick Warren, whose considerable presence on the evangelical stage was further enhanced a few years ago by his book The Purpose-Driven Life. The following line in the interview struck a nerve with at least one reader:

There’s over 2,000 verses in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of “fairness.” Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.

The Rev. Susan Russell, pastor of All Saints Church in Pasadena, responded through an open letter in the Huffington Post, the gist of which cited Matthew 20 as demonstrating that everyone should indeed be paid the same wage. That response prompted the former student’s curiosity as to what I thought, to which the reply was that I thought both parties were seriously wrong, and that more would follow. This is the “more,” though I know full well that it will not satisfy the desire for a full-blown position on wealth and poverty to which Christians ought to subscribe.

I don’t think many biblical exegetes would suggest what Rev. Russell does regarding the parable of Jesus, in which workers hired at various points throughout the day all received the identical compensation for their labors. For one obvious feature, the issue is not the difference in the type of work done but in the length of time the different parties engaged in the labor. More fundamentally, Jesus was in no way making a statement about how things ought to be handled on the farm, much less the factory or broader marketplace; he was making statements about spiritual pride of place and privilege, turning prevailing assumptions about deserving God’s favor on their head. In order to make this into a text about compensating everyone equally regardless of their contribution, one must bring a lot of preconceived ideas to the reading.

But what about Rick Warren’s statement? Certainly, he is correct about the numerous mentions of poverty and just treatment of those in that position. But it seems to me that the real issue is obscured by asking the question of what fairness entails (a “fair” enough question) in the way he does it. Moving from the very legitimate question of fairness to the incendiary discussion of wealth redistribution changes everything; it’s an emotionally charged term, and I think he knows it. It has the effect of saying “we know you don’t want that—nobody would want that,” and using it to predispose anyone listening to accept the rest of what he will say as necessary to avoid the evils of wealth redistribution.

Let’s think about this for a moment. I suspect that what he really has in mind is government enforced redistribution; that, indeed, could cause significant problems on a number of levels. But that’s not what was said. The fact is that every transaction we engage in is a redistribution of wealth. And over time, the tendency is for more of the wealth to end up in fewer hands, which raises the question of whether the transactions were fairly structured to begin with. If you have experienced a real estate settlement, and actually analyzed all of what you were paying for, you would have serious questions about how fair the redistribution really was; but the only recourse would be to end the transaction without gaining the property. Are prices for many of the things we purchase on a routine basis fairly set? Whether they are or are not, it is a redistribution.

Here are some not-so-new statistics. Every indication is that the current ones would be even more stark than these from a few years ago:

• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans
• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one
• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets
• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008
• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago
• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

Data such as these are not to be unexpected in a world of sinful, self-absorbed people. That’s why some form of redistribution was envisioned for us by God. Though never fully practiced, the Jubilee principle nonetheless acknowledges the need for fresh starts, including the release of bonded workers, and the forgiveness of debts. It is God’s plan of (dare we say) redistribution. And while the government is a poor candidate for enacting/enforcing/interpreting its version of the provisions, it would be in the best interest of Christian thinkers and leaders to provide leadership in helping us to think better about how we might care for one another in fair and just ways which neither encourage sloth nor punish industry. Christians cannot in good conscience simply give endorsement to political and economic models which do either of these.

What do you think? What does this suggest about our political priorities?

31 thoughts on “Rich, Poor, Fairness, and the Bible

  1. It is probably time to talk about debt as being no advantage at all. To go beyond Burkett based on the new reality, an to start seriously looking at proverbs six. The theology of money absolutely incorporates those who exercise injustice over the weak and poor. But there are other components, issues of sloth, issues of I’ll-wisdom, issues of consumerism/ greed/envy, even issues of theo-judgement whether natural or supra. When I look at some of my fellow citizens, Adventists, Amish, and those few Mennonites who think adding US as a prefix was an abomination, they are in a different and better state.

    I actually believe that jubilee is the only possibility out of the current situation, this is a turning point. The rentier class owns most all of us, and will own your children. It is time to take seriously Hayek here, and even Jefferson, jubilee was built on top of a land model that Jefferson understood in his dieist framework. I have met few Christian theists that know what Jefferson, Hayek or even YHWH had to say about land and slavery.

    It is revolution or slavery my friend. I prefer anabaptist passive resistance revolution through non participation in the system. Start with the system of thought.

    • Without a change of the mindset , the “day after” jubilee would become a crazed riotous buying frenzy at every Walmart in the nation. Not unlike those who win millions by playing the lottery, then end up broke and worse, within years

      • You are worried about moral hazard, as I remember English economist term from the 18 th century. Something tossed aside in the last 3 years ago to create too big to fail institutions. I agree it is an issue, it is a huge issue for snap, Ss disability, extended unemployment, and the list goes on. Not using that terminology most churches have similar discussions taking care of poor. Jubilee would need some wrapper, focused on mortgages, limiting you to not have any future government program on a mortgage, an inability to sell or rent house for a period of time, etc…. This is what some economic seminars are talking about.

        The reality is that we are looking for the state to solve our problems. We want the nice car, the nitanny lion, steelers on tv and jacket, and a BA from the academy. Walk away.

  2. You raise several questions that need to be looked at seperately, but as a general response; Jesus did say the poor woud always be with us. He even did so in the face of one of the most austentacious displays of wealth in the NT. In my years of working with those with money problems, an overwhelming majority had spending problems as opposed to income problems. They made poor choices, did not save, bought on credit to a extent they could not make payments and continue current basic expenses, etc. Much of this came from a basic violation of the Commandment don’t covent your neighbors stuff (or try to keep up with them materially)

    Much of the poverty today can be laid to poor decisions children born to single mothers, not getting an education, decline in marriage, etc. All of these can statistically be tied to higher degress of poverty. Yes, I just blamed the victim. The easy political answer is to demonize wealth, but remember Jesus’ ministry was largely underwritten by a group of wealth women (Luke). Jesus is clear that the ill use of money will bring condemination (Matt 25) but wealth is need to create wealth and much of the growth of wealth cited abouve is not redistribution but rather creation. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, et al created wealth not steal it from the poor. (Aside: every economy grew from pre industrial to higher levels of wealth by exproperating some vlaue from the poor workers but the rising tide raised most of the boats just not equallly)

    The parable of the vinyard workers was told to illustrate that all who came to Christ would recieve the same reward. (One thing I took away from seminary was not to read to much into the parables) when Jesus healed the infirm, all he did was enable them to work for a living, not indeminfy them for wages lost.

    I know I have not addressed all questions nor have I exhaused my arguements, lets keep this going.

    • But I cannot get away from the many people who suffer today and do not fit the mold you created; they are NOT victims who can rightly be blamed when they have worked hard and well for years and through decisions of those who are and will remain wealthy, find themselves without work. A slightly higher dividend does not justify ending other people’s employment. Some of that is due to executive compensation which includes generous stock distributions. Then one’s own golden parachute outweighs the longterm health of the company. And I canot justify the increased rate of the concentration of more wealth into fewer hands; nor can I think that you would want to.

      • I fear you believe too much in the American way, as do too many of my brothers and sisters, this is our real meta-narrative: The illusion of progress from technology to personal finances is a great narrative, but it is a shadow compared to another narrative. It is to time to admit that your beloved creeds are simply another form of “spiritual wickedness in high places”. If you want a simplified form of the main driver of this take a look at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/implications-failed-monetary-system

      • They’re not my creeds; they define what anyone going by the name of Christian implicitly affirms. That includes the ultimate victory of the risen and ascended Lord. I think you are reading many things into the post that I did not say. As for the American way, I have no interest in determining whether it is the best possible system (even without a biblically narrated one); it is the one we are living in and we must navigate and negotiate accordingly. If we were living in a differnt system we would do the same with that one. The question at the conclusion merely (but really) asks Christians not to uncritically follow one or the other political solution.

      • Executive salary and the so called and just defeated ‘Buffet’ rule make easy straw men. Yes, CEO pay appears high but most of it is exercising stock options, not direct pay. The rising price of stock is wealth creative not redistributive and helps all shareholders and the economy at large. High salaries do not disappear into a black hole but is either use for consumption or investment both of which increase GDP and thus general economic welfare.

        Many factory closings in the US are as much due to governmental regulations and the cost of doing business as it is to labor demands, though both have negative employment impact. In fact many companies are bringing jobs back to the US because of poor quality of product and service from overseas workers.

        In fact we are going through another economic realignment as we did 100 years ago when we moved from an agrarian economy to an urban manufacturing economy. We are now moving into a post industrial high teach economy that will require fewer and much higher tech literate workers. Displacements are hard to deal with but that is where to church needs to be speaking and serving as opposed to the promotion of clinging to old ways and being a divisive force. We Christians need to become like John Wesley and while feeding the poor provide paths for them to climb out of their condition of poverty. The government is incapable of doing any think other than breeding dependence and poverty.

      • Gary, I think we live in different universes. Wasn’t there something about building bigger barns that made one a fool? And wasn’t there an unsightly end of the man who watched as Lazarus subsisted on crumbs from the table? Why do we continue to glorify greed and turn a deaf ear to the cries of the poor and pat ourselves on the religious backside? Doesn’t the message of the prophets have anything to say to this generation? Or have we excised that from the Bible? I just cannot look at the concentration of wealth at escalating rates as good in any way shape or form. It does matter how one becomes wealthy, and it matters how one who holds it handles it. Was it only the rich in the days of James’ Epistle who oppressed the rest? Why is it so distasteful to call today’s oppressors to task? Not all rich fit the category, I know that. But not all poor are slackers, either.

      • “As for the American way, I have no interest in determining whether it is the best possible system (even without a biblically narrated one); it is the one we are living in and we must navigate and negotiate accordingly. If we were living in a differnt system we would do the same with that one.

        Amen. Our system has its flaws and its benefits, but all that’s within my reach is to figure out how to follow Christ where I live. Ok, now to read the rest of these comments…

      • I apologize My Captain. They are not your creeds. I don’t know how to admire people at a distance, it seems very dangerous to me. I admire you because you are not at a distance, I know you, it is not dangerous. You are probably not perfect, but I understand (all partially) your environment, your commitments, your work product, your companions, and your legends. While I did not know JoePa, I (again all partially) knew Sadusky, I knew JoPa’s boss, I knew a lot of that environment, I knew a lot of the companions, and a lot of the work product, I think rightly (and stealing from Dickens), in the sight of heaven he simply doesn’t measure up to you. The American dream (no matter what variant) simply doesn’t measure up to the Gospel dream. Yes the RC ChristInCulture balancing act is different, but I’ve been involved in too many “keeping JoePa’s work product out of prison” efforts to think that the price of whatever virtue is being pursued there, isn’t worth it. The target is much of the problem. I am more than willing to sin and apply Lutherian ethics to Missions, but not the Roman Circus.

  3. “If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace …you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”

      • You can’t have it all. This is where the adventists have been right a long time, you need to satisfy yourself at the bottom of the food chain, vegetables, simple living, depending on your spiritual family. The American way is now hostile to almost every point of Proverbs. Putting your trust in Princes, whether they are named Paterno, Corbett, or McCain is/was a mistake.

  4. Why is it so difficult for a society to teach and encourage people to be successful in creating wealth? Strategically is there not a greater potential to benefit the common good in so doing? I believe the wealthy do have an obligation to help care for the poor. When we are blessed materially are we not to share with others? Yet, in our culture, accumulated wealth is perceived to be ours alone for our own selfish consumption. But to redristribute wealth by taking from the wealthy has not been proven effective in the long term. It makes for good political rhetoric, good sound bites on CNN, but is there a good working paradigm that illustrates how it works?

    • American society does not teach people to create wealth, it teaches people to consume, this is the “baked in system” which came on with the push from hard money to fiat currency, fractional reserve banking, and the treasury/federalreserve infinite loop. all of this requires growth, and inflation. this power was extremely moderate in 1940 when 50% of the population lived on the farm and owned them, and is now extremely powerful for all of us serfs who own nothing. the american citizen is a net borrower, and you are owned and controlled by the System.

      For those who really do create wealth, you know them, I know them, one must ask, do they in fact care for the poor? moving outside of central pennsylvania and the christian bubble, the answer is no. they too consume, but it is more on the order of a GulfstreamV or my personal desire a Rolls Royce Phantom Limo.

      So there is a dilemna, the American Dream (or creed) has become a bold face lie, because you are trained from your very youth to consume, so 99% succumb, and the whackos who don’t succumb generally are intense driven meritocracy people who wouldn’t touch the church with a ten foot pole.

      Resist. Give up the primacy of the narrative of the flag, capitalism, and the dream and find something else. Be a revolutionary.

  5. As I read the parable of the rich fool his sin was keeping the bounty for himself and his ease not selling the surplus into to market to insure others could eat. Modern equivalent putting cash in the mattress, not into the economic system to be put to work (a la the talents ) and rich man went to Hell because he wouldn’t share the crumbs from his table with Lazarus. Yes we have obligations as laid out in Matthew 25 to help or be condemned but as I said earlier of FB to what level should the dependent be entitled to exist on others money? I contend basic food, clothing and shelter plus help
    overcoming structural barriers that hold them back. American poor live better than many ‘middle class’ in the rest of the world.

    • Granted; but human dignity, and the expression of the image also comes from work. Does this new economy even allow the greater portion of humankind to work? I’m curious in that regard, actually. And don’t worry–there isn’t going to be a middle class much longer at the rate we’re going. I think that’s a moral issue.

    • “selling the surplus into to market to insure others could eat”? Seems silly. it was food – he could have just given the food straight to those others. No need for the market at all.

      Americans both rich and poor live much better than rich and poor in other nations. But yet we are consumed by our stuff so much more than people are in place where they have less.

      The problem, as Dr. Miller said, is that people don’t want the government doing the redistribution for them. If you cut out the middle man, it’s much less worrisome. The church originally worked this way. “The believers all lived together and had everything in common.” They sold their possessions and homes and gave each person what he/she needed. They all continued working, but they didn’t claim ownership of their income.

      Even though the church gave up on communal living many centuries ago, it’s still wise to avoid claiming that you own anything. What you have belongs to God. If you think it’s yours, you’d better remember that God is fully within His rights to take it from you whenever He pleases. Sure, we claim that we’re trying to invest — like the parable of the talents — for the good of God’s kingdom. But God’s power doesn’t need your money because His kingdom isn’t about money.

  6. As usual, a wonderfully constructed and well-thought response. Thank you for putting in th work for a former student. Maybe you should apply to blog for huff post..

    The last couple of sentences really hit home and pose quite the dilemma in a fallen world. The only thought that keeps coming to mind is wouldnt it be wonderful if there was no wealth. That inward motivation was within us all to grow individually and corporately. Dont think I’ll see that on a large scale this side of eternity, though.

  7. What would things look like if everyone were content with enough food to be healthy, clothes to keep warm, and shelter to protect us from the elements. Everything else I believe can be traced back to a “want”. But is it wrong to “want”? As a Christian, if pleasure really comes from honoring God, then why do I want the cheap substitutes being marketed on my HDTV…why do I HAVE an HDTV? Why do i worship the things created? I may complain about the high prices, but I still sacrifice to the god of “lust, greed, and glory” (Supertramp, Crime of the Century).
    As long as there are people willing to camp out overnight to buy (on credit) the newest version of iPad, (then “buy” their groceries with an Access card), As long as people fork out $100 – 500 for a seat at a sporting event or a concert, the wealth will go to those “smart” enough to capitalize on it. On the other hand..why is it wrong that there is a small percentage who control the wealth when apparently they are the ones who know how to do it?
    I don’t know the hearts of each individual CEO, or multi-millionare. some are as greedy as the ones who purchase their products, but some use their wealth for good. It’s well documented how Bill Gates uses his a good portion of his wealth for good causes. Maybe the parable mentioned from Matthew 20 is simply “mind your own business”. I’m not accountable for how someone else manages their wealth, only mine. Just be content with the wages I agreed to.
    While we are being held captive in Babylon, until we are set free, we need to settle in, make our homes here, live among it’s people and serve the king.
    I will help the poor with what I have (left). I will not help those “poor” who are talking on their smart phone while waiting in line at Walmart, have a shopping cart overloaded with junk food, and then wip out an Access Card to pay for it all. That bothers me as much as the greedy CEO, but then why am I judging?

    • I am a rentier, a technology investor, I invest primarily in Manhattan and SouthEast Asia, I don’t deserve a dollar that I have at this moment, didn’t deserve the dollar i had in my pocket when I was dirt poor as well. I think you are on the right path. I invest in complete ephemera, Jewish dating services, payoff.com, online works of art, total ephemera for someone who is/was an EE & CS person, but it makes money in “the system” I have described. In this social graph investing you can’t imagine the ethical challenges that they create, my favorite was propositioning women with plastic surgery offers after their FB status changed, they had the numbers, they could turn 35% of the 20somethings into plastic surgery, and 45% of 30somethings. I told them that they were preying on women’s moment of insecurity, to them it was “just business”. They are the majority of opportunity to make money, and I am not comfortable that they can “just do it”. But I have made a moral judgment in my mind, not a purely personal one.

  8. Interesting….one of my last blog posts was a brief thought on the passage in Matthew 20…and, I would have to agree with Dr Miller – this story that Jesus told isn’t about how much people should be paid for the work or time – but about the grace of salvation. I concluded my thought saying ‘If we resent the grace that God freely gives to others, may I suggest to you that grace is not fully understood.’

    Sure, there are many scriptures about poverty and prosperity in scripture. One problem we have is that anytime money is brought up in the church, we focus on all the negative scriptures about prosperity – and leave little attention to the positive ones that shout how much God wants to take care of and bless His people (which, I might add are more abundant than the ‘negative’)….

    I am also reminded (and am continually reminded with all the blather in the news about the economy) that there are SO many who have far less and their needs are far greater than mine…and there is really so much that I can do, but simply don’t because I am trying to ‘keep my own’ (so to speak)….I wrote about that here in, “How Do You Respond“. The concluding statement I found with this entry, that some experts suggest that to supply everyone in the world with clean water, basic health and nutrition would cost something like 20 billion dollars….which is about how much Americans spend <a href="http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0304/articles/mainarticle.html"in one year on ice cream….astounding. (embarrassingly so)

    These two statements I have always remembered about money and having money :)

    All the money in the world belongs to God…it’s our job to find out whose pocket it’s in….

    God owns the cattle on a thousand hills…..AND, he owns the thousand hills….

    And…hey…..the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous….Proverbs 13:22 (the beginning part of that verse is just an added bonus)

    And then there’s the attitude that “God blessed me so that I can bless someone else”….you know, the self-righteous attitude that God gave me something because He wants me to give it away to someone who ‘really needs it’….sometimes, God blesses us because He loves us.

    Sure – we can and should help the orphan, the widow, the sick, and the needy. We are supposed to….scripture is quite clear about that. But we are also supposed to be blessed in the city, blessed in the fields, in the womb and in the crops of our lands, livestock, in our kitchen, when we are coming and going, in our store houses and bank accounts and everything we put our hands to (Deut 3:3-8)….IF we do what The Lord calls us to do….and sometimes, watching football or driving nice cars might be part of that blessing.

    Just thinking….(I do that sometimes)

    • I wonder…while being beaten, kicked, and being forced to sit naked on blocks of ice, remembering that the last thing you saw before being carried away was your home being burned to the ground…not knowing what happened to your family…all because you are a follower of Christ in a Muslim controlled land….how would those words sound:
      “But we are also supposed to be blessed in the city, blessed in the fields, in the womb and in the crops of our lands, livestock, in our kitchen, when we are coming and going, in our store houses and bank accounts and everything we put our hands to (Deut 3:3-8)….IF we do what The Lord calls us to do….and sometimes, watching football or driving nice cars might be part of that blessing.”
      I believe, Chris, that it’s a mistake to equate blessings with possessions and financial prosperity.
      The brother in my story would disagree with that…he has found blessing after blessing in finding Christ next to him in his darkest hours, and finds honor in being found worthy to suffer along with Christ.

      • I believe, Chris, that it’s a mistake to equate blessings with possessions and financial prosperity.

        I agree.

        Although, it is an equal mistake to discount them as blessing.

        We are to seek Jesus (period). Sometimes, we come to His hand…sometimes we come to His heart. We can not discount the grace in His hand while seeking the love in His heart.

        :)

  9. I think that overall the whole political discussion just shows how shallow our country is. We all claim to be entitled to something and don’t want to share. (entitled to keep money because we worked hard; entitled to get money from the government because our lives are hard; entitled to make money because we made hard decisions). It’s good to work hard; it’s good to overcome difficulties; it’s good to make sacrifices. But why do we think that money should be the end result?

    I find myself falling into that trap when I read articles recommending a broader student-debt forgiveness policy. “Hey! I picked my college based on how good the scholarship was, so I wouldn’t need to have any debt! Are you trying to tell me that people who didn’t think ahead like that are going to get a free pass? Not fair! If I’d have known that, maybe I would have gone to Yale instead of a state school, and racked up $50K in debt so it could be forgiven ten years later. No, if I can’t have it, then no one should.”

    What jerks we are. We’re unwilling to let anyone have something good unless we get something even better ourselves. The parable of the workers in the vineyard is completely relevant. We all want to make sure we have more than others. If someone else didn’t make the sacrifices I made, then they shouldn’t have any blessings at all.

    Christians should be actively engaged in helping our neighbors and building up our communities. If you think the government isn’t doing a good job of helping the poor, then you ought to get out there and do a better job. It’s complicated, messy work. Seems the church has been passing this job off to the government more and more over generations. We should get back into it.

    • entitled and deserved are four letter words they are worse than anything George Carlin ever said, they run throughout society, and they are implicit in much of Evangelicalism in a myriad of ways. “Responsible” is the mantra I need to chant, when the feeling of deserving/entitled comes out of the pit of hell into mind/heart.

      • … reminds me of the end of an obscure “song” by Steve Taylor, Cash Cow (using the golden calf as a symbol for materialism throughout the ages): “I, too, was hypnotized by those big cow eyes, the last time I uttered those three little words, ‘I deserve better!'”

      • It’s funny Amy I’ve been thinking about a Cockburn song:

        “I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try
        Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
        Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
        If I had a rocket launcher…Some son of a bitch would die”

  10. Sorry I missed the original posts. Here is another thought on the topic. (heh heh, not like there hasn’t already been enough said)

    There already is a form of redistribution of wealth via our US tax dollars. One method that comes to mind is a tax credit named the Earned Income Credit. Those who qualify can receive a nice hefty refund by filing a US tax return. This credit was created for the working poor. It is a redistribution of wealth disguised as a tax credit. There are also grants for education, which most middle income families do not qualify for, subsidies for heating fuel, food stamps, Medicaid. All paid for by tax dollars. So if the redistribution of wealth in our country is paid for by our tax dollars, how much of those tax dollars are coming from the top 1% of the income earners?

    Still, whatever entitlements are legislated to the poor by government, there is no excuse for a Christian not to extend their wealth to the poor, or to ignore the impulse to act as a good Samaritan, or to split hairs by pondering “who is my neighbor”. We are to be servants who graciously give out of our abundance. We are to be servants who aid those who are in distress. We are to be servants who extend grace without favor.

    I suppose the question is, do those basics of Christian countenance extend to the use of our tax dollars when it comes to the handling of the poor and the redistribution of wealth?

    Or should Christians go along with those who ask “what about my entitlement”, or “why should the poor get those things for free, when I had to work hard to get where I am”.

    It comes down to a difference between selfless and selfish in all of our actions and choices.

    (just a side note… forgiven debt can be taxable as income. Not much Jubilee in the tax code)

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