However, there should not be any poor among you, for the Lord will surely bless you in the land that he is giving you as an inheritance, if you carefully obey him by keeping all these commandments that I am giving you today. For the Lord your God will bless you just as he has promised; you will lend to many nations but will not borrow from any, and you will rule over many nations but they will not rule over you. If a fellow Israelite from one of your villages in the land that the Lord your God is giving you should be poor, you must not harden your heart or be insensitive to his impoverished condition. Instead, you must be sure to open your hand to him and generously lend him whatever he needs.
In fact, a good argument could be made that one reason both Moses and Jesus asserted that there would always be poor among us is that having someone needier than we are keeps us from loving wealth too much. It keeps us focused on being a blessing, rather than being blessed. Generosity is the best protection against greed.
Whatever the purpose, God asserts that the poor among us are not to be ignored but cared for. As economic systems go, both socialism and capitalism have their natural pitfalls, their natural human bents toward sin nature. Capitalism has a tendency to despise the poor - think Ebenezer Scrooge. In such a context, socialism can be seen as attractive - as the "duty" of a nation.
In reality though, it's the covenant community - the people of God - who should be taking the lead in caring for the poor. Many evangelical believers shy away from such talk, because of the imbalance of the "social Gospel" that prioritized human need over eternal truth. Yet as we peruse the pages of Scripture we encounter a God who perfectly melded both temporal help and eternal hope. And He calls us to do likewise.
God wants us to give generously to the poor as He blesses us. Without hardening our heart, meet their needs. Failure to do so is sin. Failure to do so can easily lead to our wealth controlling us. God's method of redistribution is personal, not governmental. Be generous and sacrificial; give from the overflow as well as out of need.
Governmental redistribution should never be needed. As we walk through an economic crisis, let's heed the call of Scripture to give. Now, more than ever, when people are holding tight to every penny, let's show true dependence on God by not decreasing our giving.
May you be blessed to be a blessing this Thanksgiving week.