Out of Context: If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this verse quoted by people who don’t want to give to the needy.

Go to most of the grocery stores in my town, and you’ll find a beggar, sitting on the sidewalk at the edge of the parking lot, right where the customers turn into the street, holding a sign which reads something like, “Help me out.” The stores won’t let them beg in front of the stores, of course, but they won’t drive them away from the sidewalks. I don’t know how much money people give them.

Their existence really irritates some people. Not because they’re outraged by the plight of the poor in this country: It’s because they’re begging. As far as the irritated folks are concerned, nobody should beg. Especially if they appear able-bodied. They’d certainly never beg. People should work for their money. After all, Paul taught, “If any would not work, neither should he eat”—and if you’re one of those bleeding-hearts who give to the beggars, you’re not being kind and generous. You are, in fact, violating this particular principle of scripture. ’Cause begging doesn’t count as work.

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