January 28, 2013

Why Should We Bother With the Idle and Ungrateful?

Despite lots of discussion on working with the poor and mercy ministry in many evangelical circles, not much is said about the ‘undeserving’ poor. In other words, those who purposely do not want to work or better their current situation. Shouldn’t Christian ministry focus its attention on those who ‘deserve’ our kindness, particularly in housing schemes?

There are so many people in the world who live in terrible conditions through no fault of their own. Yet on our housing schemes there are 100’s who will not work. They choose to live off the government system. There are so many conning the system, lying and manipulating the weak that it is easy to become cynical after a while. Who, then, deserves our kindness and our help? The ‘deserving’? What do they look like? How do we decide who is who? Do we forget the indolent and just try to focus on the others? I found the following quote helpful.

“Christ loved us, was kind to us, and was willing to relieve us, though we were very evil and hateful, of an evil disposition, not deserving of any good . . . so we should be willing to be kind to those who are of an ill disposition, and are very undeserving . . . If they are come to want by a vicious idleness and prodigality; yet we are not thereby excused from all obligation to relieve them, unless they continue in those vices. If they continue not in those vices, the rules of the gospel direct us to forgive them . . . Christ hath loved us, pitied us, and greatly laid himself out to relive us from wickedness. We foolishly and perversely threw away those riches with which we were provided, upon which we might have lived and been happy to all eternity.” (J. Edwards)

Romans 5:8 reminds us that, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us". Let’s not forget who we are. Undeserving sinners saved by a glorious work of grace bringing the treasure of the gospel to an undeserving world. 20schemes seeks to revitalise, and plant, gospel-centred churches in places inhabited by many that ‘mainstream’ society here would regard as ‘undeserving’. Pray for us.

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