“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” – Relating to prices and the poor, 1766 Ben Franklin
While it wood be easy to sit on the quote and do nothing for the poor except make it less easy for them, I don’t believe that is our duty or calling. Nor do I believe is it our job to have the government take care of the poor. The government is inherently impersonal and inefficient.
We are to take care of our family. 1 Tim 5:8.
We are to take care of other believers. Rom 12:13
We are to do good and share what we have. Hebrews 13:16
If we are gracious to the poor, we “lend to the Lord.” And, the Lord will repay. Proverbs 19:17
The one who gives to the poor will not lack, but whoever shuts his eyes to them will receive many curses. Proverbs
And, if we give, Jesus tells us, as recorded by Dr. Luke, “it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”
And Paul instructed Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others.”
The poor have their own instruction from Paul. The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need.
God made it easy for us to give. “There will never cease to be some poor people in the land; therefore, I am commanding you to make sure you open your hand to (those) who are needy and poor in your land.” Deuteronomy.
How much shall we give? Paul recommends that, “Each of you must give what you have decided in your heart, not with regret or under compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. Besides, God is able to make every blessing of yours overflow for you, so that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work.”
King David wrote a Psalm about treating the poor right, “How blessed is the one who treats the poor properly! When trouble comes, the Lord delivers him. May the Lord protect him and save his life! May he be blessed in the land! Do not turn him over to his enemies! The Lord supports him on his sickbed; you completely heal him from his illness.”
One of my guiding principles is Give early, give often. Give while you know to what or to whom you are giving. Be charitably inclined. Practice charity whenever possible.
Do Good! But, do good differently than Ben. Dan