Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
‘The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.’ –2 Corinthians 2:13-15
Paul refers to the story of manna from heaven provided for the Israelites as they wondered in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. (Exodus 16:18) As you will recall in the story God provided enough food for the day but no more, except there was enough food to carry through the Sabbath so that all could observe it and rest.
I have read about bills being written, some passed, in various states throughout the nation, defining and controlling how people who receive public assistance can spend the cash they receive and requiring the passage of drug tests as an eligibility requirement. There is an assumption that no one receiving public assistance or food stamps is capable of handling their own money and that they all must be drug users, I guess. It seems to me we have to denigrate the poor to justify reducing expenditures for welfare. The irony is putting systems in place to police the use of these funds or do drug testing would cost more than the money saved. The data show that only a very small percentage of public assistance recipients ever test positive for drug use*. And I would challenge anyone to try to just survive for one month on food stamps and public assistance. I doubt most could make their utility bill payments.
All this chatter is a ruse to avoid the real issues. If everyone were paid a living wage, the number of food stamps recipients under the age of 65 could easily drop by at least half making a major dent in the cost of government. We do not want to struggle with the messiness of reworking the tax code to help small businesses pay a living wage and to make others pay their fair share of the cost of doing business. Food stamps, child care assistance, and Medicaid are primarily wage supplements for businesses.
Paul is not saying we are to encourage dependence. He is saying we need to foster independence through assuring justice for all.
Prayer: Lord forgive us for shaming the working poor in our country. Help us fine the way to assure that The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.