And yet in spite of my instant "let them fail!" reaction, I felt a few tugs of Christian charity stirring. Where exactly does the duty of the financially stable Christian fall in this situation? Should we be helping out those we know to the extent of our ability, should we put strings on the help, or withhold it entirely? Since the church is the body of Christ, shouldn't the Church be doing all we can to keep that body strong, even if it means helping out members who have gotten in trouble through bad stewardship of what God has given them?
It may be a reflection of my generally pessimistic mind set on this issue, but the following passage of Scripture leapt to mind this morning:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 - 13
There is a warning for the idle here: If you are not willing to work to support yourself, you have no right to expect others to support you.
The key here is the willingness to work. Those who are doing everything to fix their situation, who will take any job, multiple part time jobs, sell unneeded possessions - anything to support themselves are a much different case than those who decide to sit around and enjoy life on the public dime for as long as they can before making any effort to contribute to their own upkeep.
There is a reminder here also, for those who are earning their way: Do not tire of doing good, remembering that your behavior is a model for others.
We need to continue modeling responsible financial behavior for others, in spite of the frustration we feel at the current situation. Yes, it just plain sucks to work hard to pay off a mortgage, while your neighbor defaults and is bailed out - with your money, no less. Yet we need to continue to model godly stewardship.
My point? I'm not exactly sure. (it's my blog and I babble if I want to*) If nothing else, the current economic situation should stir up discussion of what exactly Christian charity should look like. In the meantime, it's back to work for me.
*Sung to the tune of 'It's my party and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to..."