"Recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Peter and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They only asked us to remember the poor - the very thing I also was eager to do." Galatians 2:9-10
There is a common perception today that Jesus and Christianity teaches that the Church should support the idea of social justice. By social justice, I mean that the Church should be a supporter of government programs to provide for the poor. Though, Christians are told to remember the poor and to share their wealth with the needy, they were taught to be discriminate about who they gave to.
The Bible says that the borrower is the slave of the lender (Proverbs 22:7) so those who become dependent upon government entitlement programs are slaves of the government. Social entitlement programs may initially sound good to those in need but these programs move us into socialism where individual freedoms are forever lost and all eventually become wards of the state. The free practice of religion and the preaching of the Gospel has been suppressed by every nation that has embraced a type of socialist government. Under socialism the media, television and radio programs come under the control of the government ruling elite so there is a real and present danger to the Work of God.
Those who advance social justice believe in the redistribution of wealth - they believe in taking the wealth of others to give to those who are in need, but the Apostles taught that every man is to earn his own living and eat his own food and that if he didnít work then he should not eat. The Apostles were not teaching the Church to be uncaring but were teaching the brethren to be responsible. The wealthy in the early Church shared their wealth with their poor brethren but not under a Church government mandate - each person had complete control. (Acts 5:4)
In America, we have seen how indiscriminate our government programs often are which has fostered fraud and tremendous waste. The Church practiced equal justice where the needy were given a hand up rather than a hand out. Social justice tends to keep people enslaved and dependent, while the charity of equal justice is designed to help people get back on their feet. Of course there are always exceptions. Some people will always be in constant need and must depend on the charity of others, government or private -the elderly and handicapped.
When the Church began, those who had wealth shared their wealth with others. If they did not know a specific person in need they gave of their wealth to the Apostles for distribution - this was not commanded but was completely voluntary.
But did the Apostles give to anyone who happened to be in need? We will let the Apostles answer that for themselves, -"For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order; if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all. . .such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread." (2 Thes.3)
The early Church was commanded to not give or even feed those who were too lazy to work. In a world where Christianity is thought of as a religion of charity to all, this must come as a shock but God knows well that it does not really "help" people to cause them to become dependent. The foremost mission of the Church is to preach the life saving message of the Gospel- secondly, to disciple and teach those who believe - and thirdly, to practice charity. Charity was always practiced to the Church first, which will also surprise many today. In fact, the Apostles commanded that family members help their own needy before the Church should be burdened.
God commanded the Israelites to save a third tithe twice in seven years to provide for the poor and needy. This was to deal with its widows, disabled and destitute. The Church was instructed only to remember the poor discriminately.
After evaluation, the Church placed worthy widows on the list to receive assistance, but the qualifications were strict, notice, -"Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family. . .But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than 60 years old, the wife of one man, having a good reputation. . .and if she has devoted herself to good works. But refuse to put younger widows on the list. . .If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the Church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed." (1 Tim.5) This is a completely foreign concept to the modern Church and seems harsh, but of course it isn't harsh, it's God's way which is always right.
As Christians we must show ourselves to be responsible in the faith which includes our work ethic and the management of our finances. This is the only way that we can finance God's Work and be able to practice discriminate charity. The Church of Jesus Christ were taught and practiced charity and equal justice, but the idea that the Church taught social justice is simply false.
We must do as Jude said, "Contend earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered by the Apostles."