Christians must reclaim compassion. Christ is the leader of compassion. The Bible is the “bible” on compassion. No one has more authority to speak about compassion than Christians. The problem is that many are stuck on clichés and ideas that are not based on truth when it comes to compassion. What they call compassion is in reality an ideology of humanism and not biblical compassion. These who claim the notion of compassion from a humanistic ideology are involved in a socialist move to redistribute other people’s property, all in the name of compassion. A good example of this is when Al Gore was on the presidential ticket a few years back. It was reported that year he gave $350 to charity, yet Gore was named among those who have compassion for the poor. On the other hand, many Americans maligned Vice-President Cheney and called him greedy and a money-grabbing capitalist. However, it was shown that year that he gave nearly eight million to charity. Who is the most compassionate? Is it those who take other people’s money and give it out, or is it those who work to get folks out of poverty while being personally generous. Listen to one of our founding fathers that wanted to see our great nation prosper and risked their own fortunes for that to happen: I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766 Compassion is being quick to give to and defend the poor.
The conflict between the two thoughts does not lie in the act of compassion, but rather, in the means of accomplishing the act. In all works of compassion God must remain sovereign. The difference in Christian Compassion and government provision is in who is sovereign. The “invisible hand” of God and not man must bring about compassion. In the Book of Acts, the believers had all things in common and did not feel like what they owned was theirs, but shared everything they had (Acts 4:32). That may sound like socialist policies, but the difference is that God was moving on the hearts of men to do the acts of compassion rather than the state requiring it. If the state requires people to have all things in common then it mandates taking from one to give to another. It places the state in control of property and by principle, in control of people. Christian compassion, on the other hand, depends upon the hand of God to move upon individuals to be generous. This in turns gives not only glory to God but dignity to humanity.
For Christian compassion to work one must trust God and understand that He will judge and make right Himself. His laws of redistribution have to be trusted. One must believe that businesses and individuals will come to ruin if they operate out of greed without compassion. Proverbs tells us, “One person is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds more than he should and comes to poverty” (Prov 11:24).
Nations who have the greatest number of Christians and are influenced by Christian values are the largest givers of charity. Literally, billions are given each year out of true compassion. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, over 350 billion dollars are freely given each year in the United States alone.
Prosperity and private ownership does not of necessity require greed. Greed is in the heart of mankind as a result of Adam’s fall. The Christian worldview says that only God can move upon hearts to be generous. Nations that have operated under socialism not only are motivated by greed but also envy. You cannot argue against capitalism on the bases of greed because greed is the nature of man and not an economic system.
For those who have read Orwell’s Animal Farm, they discover socialists believe that, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Man selects and chooses others to be more equal. In the name of sharing and redistribution, money is confiscated in the name of taxes and given to others. Fidel Castro became the leader of a Communist revolution campaigning against the evil “rich people” in Cuba, but became worth 900 million dollars.
However, if one is godless, then the state must become the means for requiring compassion. Once “compassion” is mandated and required by the state, it is no longer compassion, but rather a redistribution of wealth by man. This in itself can be nothing other than stealing from one in the name of compassion. It is redistribution by theft. It is no longer by compassion and free will but by extortion.
Ill will and class envy arises when men require only what God has the right to do. In the Book of Acts, the scripture makes it clear that choice and private ownership is what God supports. Even though the Christians were generous and had all things in common, it was clearly theirs to do with as God moved on their heart. This is affirmed by Peter’s statement, “The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away” (Acts 5:4). Christian compassion may be compared to socialism because of helping others, but they are worlds apart. When “compassion” is required or mandated then it turns Christian compassion into state socialism.
Socialism requires a redistribution of wealth and builds a nation against itself through class envy. Hope for individual improvement and wealth increase is replaced with envy and a cry against those who have. In socialist governments protest are common in an attempt to redistribute wealth because there is this underlying belief of a limited pie. So if one is blessed then the other must be envious. It is a godless mentality. With a limited pie concept anger rises to rebellion and lawlessness.
Under socialism the state becomes more powerful and supreme. The state continues to grow. The state will eventually own property, business, healthcare, education, and have control over the lives of people and then you have communism.
About the Author:
Glenn Shaffer is the author of Apostolic Government in the 21st Century, Christianity 101 and Discipleship 201. He has a Masters of Ministry degree in leadership studies from Southwestern Christian University and is working toward a Doctorate in Ministry at ORU in Tulsa.
Glenn and his wife, Ami have been married for 40 years with two sons, Matt and Daniel. Together, they co-see the elder pastoral care of Destiny Life Church, one church in two locations (Owasso and Claremore, Oklahoma) where they have been serving for almost 4 decades. It is a non-denominational church, based on a New Testament Apostolic form of church government. Together, they also serve as the directors of ATI- Apostolic Teams International, an emerging network of churches and ministers.