There is no doubt that our country has seen those times were people were in desperate need. During the depression, there were highly qualified people who were hard workers with good ethics… but simply had no job. This was not for a lack of trying, but because of the condition of the country at the time. In addition to the Great Depression, we have had dozens of times since then where the unemployment numbers rose and good people lost their jobs. Many of you reading this today have likely had a season of out of work.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to be compassionate. Jesus Himself, along with His apostles, taught us to care for the needy, the orphans, the widows. Some of this care come from one on one help like a neighbor helping a neighbor. Some of this care comes from church programs or para-church organizations. Some even comes from the government.
But Paul saw many take advantage of this charitable support. He wrote to the people at Thessolonica that idleness is a danger to avoid. He actually commanded “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thes 3:10-12)
Paul had no problem with charity or welfare, but He did have a serious problem with people seeking to take advantage of such charity but had their own ability to earn a living. However even in his charge against them, notice that he still encouraged them to come to know Jesus.
In our world today, we have created a dependent and entitled generation. In the interest to have nobody fall through the cracks, we have created an environment than can end up discouraging hard work and determination. This is dangerous. Those who (for a season or a permanent situation) cannot care for themselves, we are absolutely called to be there and help. We need to be the hands and fee of Jesus, lifting them up and showing them love. However, those with all the ability to work but simply choose to take handouts instead are guilty of idleness. These are a people who the first part of the command is directed to. If they are not willing to work, let them not eat.