An oversimplified way to express one of our nation’s current political questions might be: to what extent should each person be held responsible to look after their own life and to what extent should our government be held responsible for them when they can’t or don’t?

The Bible may not speak directly about government’s role in answering this question, but it does seem to say that with regard to God’s people, the church, we are to look after our own life and the lives of others.

So, the Apostle Paul says that each person “should carry his own load” (Gal. 6:5), but also “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). We are to do both.

We are to help ourselves as much as we can for what is needed, and we are to help others as much as we can for what is needed.

The Bible’s point seems to go a little further to clarify this dualism. It seems to say something like this: work is mandatory, compassion is compulsory—but no sponging.

We should work as Paul did to provide for ourselves so as not to be a burden to others (2 Thess. 3:8), yet when we do help others with their “burdens” we “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2)— we don’t, however, help someone in the church if their only plan is to sponge. Paul says that if someone’s only intention is to live at someone else’s expense, then the apostle gives this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

The Bible isn’t written to direct how the United States of America should set its policy to mitigate our national tension between private responsibility and public welfare, but the Word of God is not unaware of this challenge in the family of God.

Now that’s something to Celebrate!

Author: Toby Larson

Toby Larson leads Celebration International. He is a husband and father of 5. Whether he's teaching, hitting tennis balls, sailing a Hobie, serving in Asia, skiing on water or snow, Toby is passionate about the love of God and the love of life. Read more ...