There is an old saying that advises not to discuss religion or politics, yet here I am writing articles that always have some sort of religious message in them.  Often within a religious discussion, politics also come up.  “Social issues” are obviously part of politics, but even economic issues have a religious component to them.
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Though liberals and conservative Christians differ strongly on political issues, they share a common concern for the poor, or at least they say they do.  The difference however comes in their approach about how to best help the poor.  The scriptures speak extensively on these matters. 
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For example, Proverbs 22:16 says, “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.”  A liberal might look at that verse and think that the whole capitalist system is out to give to the rich and oppress the poor.  The conservative may look at the same verse and wonder why liberals would want to take property tax money from poor homeowners to give to teachers who are making an upper middle class living.
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Part of the problem in the whole debate is man’s preoccupation with riches.  Some are preoccupied with getting others riches through stealing, begging, or legislating.  Others are preoccupied with earning their riches through hard work.  The scripture makes it clear that there are more important things than riches.  “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)  Those who steal or oppress the poor for riches have given up their good name.
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In our country there are many people who live below the poverty level yet still have extra food, sufficient shelter, and a lot of clothes.  There are others who have almost nothing.  If a healthy young man is collecting welfare, driving a nice car and talking on his I-phone, isn’t he oppressing the poor little old widow who is too weak and elderly to work and who may have to sell her tiny house because the property taxes are too high?  Isn’t the government thus oppressing the poor to give to the rich?
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The scripture is clear that we should help the poor.  “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17)  “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13)
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The problem is that many who claim to be poor really are not.  They just do not have enough cash flow to satisfy all their pleasures and they are envious of those who do.  Proverbs 21:17 warns, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.”  If you think you have the right to get a free handout so you can take a vacation to Disney World or go out drinking, don’t be surprised if you really do end up poor.
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Further, if you are too lazy to work, don’t blame someone else for your poverty.  “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” (Proverbs 19:15)  “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4)  “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” (Proverbs 20:13)  “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” (Proverbs 21:25)
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Instead of envying the rich and suppressing the poor, we as Christians should make sure we are not lazy and we should work hard, NOT so that we can buy whatever we want, but so we can have some extra to help others.  “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28).