Does The Bible Teach Capitalism?

Matthew 20:1: For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:2: And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:3: And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

Matthew 20:4: And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Matthew 20:5: Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

Matthew 20:6: And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

Matthew 20:7: They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

Matthew 20:8: So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

Matthew 20:9: And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

Matthew 20:10: But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

Matthew 20:11: And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

Matthew 20:12: Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

Matthew 20:13: But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Matthew 20:14: Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

Matthew 20:15: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Matthew 20:16: So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

This passage is often used to justify capitalism and reject communism. While we all know the ill effects of communism and how it brings equal misery to everyone in society, to use the above passage to justify capitalism is ridiculous. This passage doesn’t teach capitalism at all. This couldn’t be further from the truth and an insult to scriptural revelation.

This passage concerns the kingdom of heaven and the harvest regarding this kingdom down through the ages. The main character is the householder, the good man of the house. This same householder, also in connection with the kingdom, is mentioned in three other places in the New Testament in the Book of Matthew.

Matthew 13:27: So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

This householder wasn’t a capitalist but he suffered loss due to sabotage by enemies who sowed tares in his field. He didn’t even retaliate against those saboteurs.

A capitalist would immediately cut loss or take remedial action to correct the situation to preserve shareholder value of the enterprise. He would not sit idly by ignoring opportunity cost and allows his investment to be affected by his competitors.

Matthew 13:52: Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

This householder could be anyone instructed in the kingdom of heaven and he is not any kind of capitalist at all.

Matthew 21:33: Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

This householder has a vineyard. Having trouble collecting the fruits of his vineyard, he even sacrificed his son in the process. This is not the work of a capitalist.

Back to the passage in Matthew 20, the householder in question did not exhibit any trait of a capitalist. A capitalist is a profit maximiser and a cost minimiser. In fact, everyone in general is a profit maximiser and a cost minimiser.

He had contracted the first batch of workers for a penny a day. For the other batches of workers, he only promised them what was right compensation for them. Came payment time, those who worked for only one hour received the same compensation with the first batch of workers who toiled through the entire day.

If he were a capitalist, would he compensate this group of workers who worked only for an hour the same wages with those who worked the whole day? Haven’t capitalists been moving jobs to lower cost countries to maximize profit? To force this passage to teach capitalism is to strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

More importantly, this way of teaching scriptures distorts very important truths this passage has to reveal. Though this passage concerns harvest time only for a day, the kingdom of heaven does not imply only a one day harvest. The general truths of the harvest includes first fruits, the general harvest and the gleanings.

The first batch of workers entered the work to harvest the first fruits. Then followed by other batches reaping the general harvest. Finally, it was left with gleanings for the last batch of workers.

The first batch of workers enjoyed the first fruits of the vineyard. This was joyous time indeed. Then followed by the rest of the workers labouring in the general harvest. Harvest was plentiful and rewarding and not too difficult though labouring longer hours in the vineyard.

Come to the gleanings, there were not much left to harvest. It could be rather discouraging. The happy joyous fruitful harvest is long gone left with some fruits here and there, a rather pathetic sight. This makes harvesting more difficult and discouraging.

Towards the tail end of the harvest, productivity is rather low. Yet, the householder rewarded these workers just the same as those workers who worked the whole day. This does not seem fair. This is definitely not the practice of a capitalist.

This gives rise to comparison. The first batch of workers were bellyaching. They expected to be paid more when they realized those workers who worked for only an hour received a penny. They started to compare themselves with this group of workers. They didn’t compare themselves with those who worked only three hours less who also received a penny. This is the trait of fallen human nature.

Everyone would compare and exaggerate to his advantage and benefit. In fact, everyone is a profit maximiser and a cost minimiser and a capitalist at heart. Their sense of fairness is man-centric. The starting point is myself as a basis for fairness. Self entitlement mentality is very strong.

They would never think how good the householder is who rewarded those who worked only an hour so much more than they deserved. They would never praise the good and generous nature of the householder but wallow in self pity and misery.

Indeed the householder did not cheat them at all. They had all agreed to labour for a penny a day. The rest did not get a contract but trusted the householder to reward them.

This is a double-edged sword. Their trust in the householder could be misplaced and get cheated. There was no contractual obligation for the householder to reward them a penny like the first batch of workers. They could get considerably less than this first batch of workers and there would be no recourse for them.

So if the rest of the workers get very much less in remuneration, the first batch of workers would be happy and count themselves fortunate who have a contract to fall back on to demand just compensation. This is another evil trait of the fallen human nature. They would not rejoice with those who get more than they deserve but would be happy for all to suffer in equal misery, better still if others suffer misfortune.

Hence, the rest of those workers who entered the work based on faith and trust that this householder would not cheat them were rewarded. So it comes down to the attitude of these men when they were hired into the work. Those who left only an hour to work could have found the work left to perform not very lucrative and not worth their effort and turn down the offer to work based on the goodness and generosity of this householder.

After all, how much could they make for just an hour left to labour? Why not wait for better opportunity the next day? Is it worth the trouble to dirty their hands for this last hour of labour? They could turn out to be those described by Solomon giving excuses not to labour.

Ecclesiastes 11:4: He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

Nevertheless, those who entered into the work even though it was just an hour of work left to perform were handsomely rewarded. It is very easy to justify inaction based on a self-centered approach.

In this actual world we live in, to work without a contract is dangerous. You could be taken advantaged and cheated by the employer. If such an offer to work comes your way, it is a judgment call whether this employer could be trusted. But the householder here in Matthew 20 is the Lord of harvest offering those who labour for Him to be rewarded what is right.

This harvest concerns preaching the gospel of Christ. During the early Church Age, thousands were saved. Those who toiled through the heat of the day saw their harvest and were rewarded down through the ages to the Reformation. This first batch of labourers secured compensation for their effort and their rewards were confirmed.

Matthew 19:27: Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Matthew 19:28: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is the time of gleaning now where the labour is hard and discouraging. The vineyard is almost bare and the fields of the world are really pathetic. Fruitful harvest is long gone. Labouring without much fruitfulness is not very exciting and encouraging. How many are still willing to enter into the Lord’s vineyard to labour in the eleventh hour?

Luke 18:8: I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Notwithstanding, those who are willing to labour during the eleventh hour during difficult circumstances, they will not be disappointed because the Lord is always generous to reward even the underserving. Those who labour during the first hour are rewarded and likewise those who labour in the final hour will not lose their rewards if they are willing to enter into the work of the Lord.

Matthew 20:16: So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

2 Timothy 4:8: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

To equate the householder in this passage as an exploitative profit driven capitalist is to impinge his good character and an insult to the highest order. It does not do justice to what this passage has to teach.

Failing to consider the goodness of the person of the householder, the state of the vineyard at different period of time, the nature of the harvest, the state of mind and conditions of the workers during different time in evaluating profitability of the labour involved as well as the types of employment contract offered, concluding this passage teaches capitalism is going off on a tangent.

More importantly, the prophetic nature of the harvest throughout the Church Age with regards to the gospel of Christ becomes non existent when this passage is used to teach capitalism alone. Church history clearly shows the state of harvest beginning from the first fruits through the general harvest to the state of gleanings. The seven letters issued to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation also reveal the state of the last days church wallowing in lukewarmness where the harvest is soon to conclude.

Hence, it is foolish to interpret scriptures to support man-made theories and systems in the world. Failing to study Biblical economics that include a Jubilee to reset the economy in the world will tend to lead to the erroneous idea of the superiority of capitalism that must be defended at all cost including perverting scriptures to justify this end.

It is instructional to heed the state of our times in Church history and to know the conditions we are labouring under to avoid falling into discouragement and despair when we see so little left to harvest where productivity is very low. Economics text book calls this period of time the state of diminishing returns.

It may not seem worthwhile to labour anymore during this final hour of the harvest. However, the Lord’s rewards are certain and sure though the fruitful harvest experienced by those before us may seem to have reaped abundantly while we do not achieve very much.

Jeremiah 8:20: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Psalms 126:5: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Psalms 126:6: He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Revelation 22:12: And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.


Yoke Bearing for Christians

The Bible mentioned about yoke in the Old and New Testaments. The more famous and well known verse about yoke Christians like to talk about is 2 Corinthians 6:14: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

However, yoke is more than just this verse Christians fancy most. The earliest mention of the word “yoke” is concerning servitude of a people.

Genesis 27:40: And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

This verse concerns the people of Esau. They would be put under the dominion of Jacob’s descendants. The yoke the children of Jacob applied on the children of Esau would come to an end when they finally dominate over Jacob’s children.

The next verse that talks about yoke has to do with the children of Israel living under bondage as slaves to serve their masters in the land of Egypt. It was a horrible yoke which Jehovah God eventually delivered them by the hands of Moses who led them out of Egypt.

Leviticus 26:13: I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

In actual literal practice, yoke is applied to an animal. However, some animals when they were not put under the yoke for agricultural purposes, they became sacrificial animals for the purpose of cleansing rituals for the children of Israel.

Numbers 19:2: This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:

Deuteronomy 21:3: And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke;

Deuteronomy 21:4: And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley:

Deuteronomy 21:5: And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried:

After the children of Israel were delivered from the yoke of Egyptian bondage, they were warned that another more terrible yoke would come upon them when they rebel against God and fail to keep their covenant with the Lord.

Deuteronomy 28:48: Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

Usually, the enemies put the children of Israel under the yoke of bondage. Unfortunately, even the kings of Israel put them under severe bondage. After the death of king Solomon, the people requested Rehoboam who ascended the throne after Solomon to lighten their burdens. But king Rehoboam took counsel from those whom he grew up with to impose a even heavier yoke upon the children of Israel. Hence, the kingdom became divided.

1 Kings 12:4: Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

1 Kings 12:9: And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?

1 Kings 12:10: And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.

1 Kings 12:11: And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

1 Kings 12:14: And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

Throughout the writings of prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Nahum, the yoke continues to be a source of heavy bondage and servitude. It was not something positive and joyous celebration for the children of Israel. This was just the way it was due to sin and rebellion against God.

One of the most prominent mention of the word “yoke” is found in Lamentations. Jeremiah was lamenting bitterly concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple as well as the captivity of the children of Israel. Although he was not put to death by the Babylonians, he felt the pains of his people and the tragedy that fell upon Israel for their disobedience and rebellion against the God of Israel.

Lamentations 1:14: The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up.

Interestingly, Jeremiah mentioned something positive about bearing the yoke.

Lamentations 3:27: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

The reason Jeremiah could relate positively to yoke bearing is the realisation of the goodness of the Lord and trusting the Lord in times of adversity. Most importantly, the yoke is not permanent and hence it is good to bear the yoke in the youth. The Lord is just and knows what He is doing with them in spite of the burdens and sufferings of being put under the yoke.

Lamentations 3:28: He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.

Lamentations 3:29: He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.

Lamentations 3:30: He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.

Lamentations 3:31: For the Lord will not cast off for ever:

Lamentations 3:32: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

Lamentations 3:33: For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

Lamentations 3:34: To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,

Lamentations 3:35: To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,

Lamentations 3:36: To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.

Lamentations 3:37: Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?

Lamentations 3:38: Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?

Lamentations 3:39: Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

Lamentations 3:40: Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.

Lamentations 3:41: Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

Coming to the New Testament, yoke bearing takes on a new dimension. While yoke always portrays the idea of bondage and sufferings, it has become something desirable. Most glaring are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who implores His people to take on His yoke.

Matthew 11:29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The yoke in the world causes a lot of trouble and sufferings but the yoke of the Lord is the complete opposite. Taking on the yoke of the Lord brings rest to our souls.

Whenever a Christian complains it is so hard to live the Christian life, he is lying. The Lord tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light. They are meant as a source of comfort for His people and not another form of terrible bondage impose upon His people to punish them.

The law of Moses imposed upon the children of Israel for their own good was a form of yoke the children of Israel found it hard to bear. So when a sinner believed and received the Lord, some Jews sought to impose the bondage of the law upon them.

Acts 15:10: Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

Galatians 5:1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

This yoke was decisively and conclusively rejected by the apostles when issues pertaining to observance of the law of Moses by the New Testament Christians were brought into question. Surely the Lord does not lie for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Now for the very familiar verse Christians usually apply to marriage, this verse actually covers more than just marriages.

2 Corinthians 6:14: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

On the surface, this verse does apply to marital situation and there is nothing wrong with the application. However, the context of this verse is exemplified by the following verses.

2 Corinthians 6:15: And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

2 Corinthians 6:16: And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

2 Corinthians 6:17: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

2 Corinthians 6:18: And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

So it is not merely for the case of Christians marrying non Christians. It is for Christians not to become yoked with encumbrances with the unsaved in many areas and not just on marriage. This however does not mean a Christian should avoid the unsaved like a plague because the apostle Paul clearly instructs that this would be unrealistic and impossible to do.

1 Corinthians 5:9: I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

1 Corinthians 5:10: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

So common sense prevails over how a Christian should avoid yoking up with an unbeliever and this applies more than just a marital union. This is the negative aspect of yoking in the New Testament.

In all practical purpose, yoking must be done with equal partners. In the business world, yoking is a synergistic partnership between companies to further their business venture for mutual benefits. If one party is a dominant party, such yoking is no longer an equal partnership. It would become a merger and acquisition scenario where the dominant company buying over the weaker company. Pains would be hard to avoid under such yoking arrangement as positions would be made redundant and employees could be retrenched. Hence, being unequally yoked brings no tangible benefits but pains to one party.

The positive aspect of yoking is to become engaged with like-minded brethren in the gospel work. This kind of yoking the Lord is obviously well pleased.

Philippians 4:3: And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Living in this fallen world, it is unavoidable that there would be a master and servant relationship. Salvation of a sinner does not abolish the present world system for the child of God. Such a Christian is encouraged to serve his master faithfully where the yoke is regarded as part of the Lord’s service.

1 Timothy 6:1: Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

So becoming a Christian does not exempt the child of God from yoking. He is encouraged to yoke positively in the Lord’s work. He is also required to serve his master under the yoke as a form of service to the Lord to ensure the Lord’s name not be blasphemed. Of course, the child of God has to be careful not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers in all aspect of his life for his own safety and comfort as well as blessings from the Lord.

The Chinese has a saying.

吃 得 苦 中 苦 方 為 人 上 人

A person who can endure hardship is a superior man.

Hence, according to the scripture as written by Jeremiah: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. (Lamentations 3:27)

The apostle Paul also exhorts Christians to be a good soldier for the Lord by enduring hardness.

2 Timothy 2:3: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Those who have gone through some form of military service would understand the challenges and the toughness require from a soldier.

It is good training to prepare for adversities in the youth. He will stand a greater chance of survival in this spiritual warfare that is waged against him by the flesh, world and the devil. How many Christians have fallen in the battlefields and the scars are too numerous to document because they have failed to heed Lamentations 3:27: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

As such, Christians are exhorted to be strong to take the yoke of the Lord which is easy and the burden light. The yoke of man is truly miserable.

1 Corinthians 16:13: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

Ephesians 6:10: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

2 Timothy 2:1: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.


Helping The Poor

Matthew 26:6: Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
Matthew 26:7: There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
Matthew 26:8: But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
Matthew 26:9: For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
Matthew 26:10: When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Matthew 26:11: For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

The passage here concerns a woman doing something good to the Lord that seems to be excesses to His disciples. The disciples were indignant. They deemed the gift was too costly and it was a terrible waste of resources. The gift bestowed upon the Lord was unjustifiable and could have helped the poor instead.

To add insult to injury, the Lord not only told them to let this matter pass, He added that they had the poor with them always but they won’t have the Lord with them always. This would be something politically incorrect to say and will not endear one to the masses.

If the Lord Jesus Christ is not the Creator of the universe who deserves the utmost adoration and offerings from His subjects, then He must be a charlatan indeed. But the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord of glory where unfortunately His disciples being so familiar with Him failed to recognize. This was utmost disrespect and severe underestimation of the worth of the Lord.

Helping the poor is always a good platform to propel one into the forefront of politicking and eventual ascendency unto power. Once at the apex of power, helping the poor no longer becomes a top agenda but only a sideshow with some appeasement for the downtrodden masses from time to time in order to remain in power. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon didn’t heed the advisors from his late father’s cabinet to ease the burdens of his subjects and this led to his downfall losing ten out of the twelve tribes that split the nation of Israel.

The Lord’s definitive statement about the perpetual existence of the poor is a biblical and historical fact. Ever since the fall of Adam, the earth is cursed and man has to toil for a living and some will certainly fall under unfortunate circumstances. What the Lord said about the poor has also being told to the children of Israel by Moses. Had they learned about the Bible and not lightly esteemed the Lord, they would not be offended with this woman’s act of charity.

Deuteronomy 15:11: For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

It is not the Lord does not care about the poor, for the Lord has enacted laws for the nation of Israel how they should care for the poor in their midst. The self-help initiatives need not be run by large organizations under the auspices of the State where bureaucracy would eat up a sizeable portion of the donation for the poor. As individuals they were required to care for their downtrodden brethren among them.

Leviticus 19:10: And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:22: And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 24:19: When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.

In addition, the seventh year is a year of rest where the poor could enjoy the fruits of the fields where the land is not to be harvested to increase the coffer of the well to do citizens of the nation.

Exodus 23:11: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

Besides all those measures to help the poor during those years of hardship, the Lord also puts in place a policy to reset the economy of the nation every fifty years. Those who lost their lands could return to their possessions and those who became servants due to hardship were required to be set free. This will ensure the poor will not remain poor forever while the rich becomes richer all the time.

Leviticus 25:10: And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
Leviticus 25:11: A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
Leviticus 25:12: For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
Leviticus 25:13: In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.

The Lord does understand the plight of His people and thus instituted laws to ensure equitable distribution of wealth among His chosen people. If only nations in the world take a leaf of out the economic principles given to the children of Israel, this world would be a much better place.

But greed however, would not allow nations to adopt such economic blueprint. Even the children of Israel failed to keep this economic master plan and together with many heinous provocations against the Lord, they were eventually destroyed and carried away to Babylon to let the land rest and the poor enjoy the fruits of the land.

Leviticus 26:31: And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.
Leviticus 26:32: And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
Leviticus 26:33: And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
Leviticus 26:34: Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
Leviticus 26:35: As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.

So while the Lord Jesus Christ may seem callous to remark that the poor would be here to stay and while He clearly deserved the best, the Lord’s care for the poor cannot go unnoticed. Those who care for the poor will certainly be blessed.

Psalms 41:1: Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Psalms:112:9: He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.

The same promise is also given to the New Testament Christians.

2 Corinthians 9:9: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

The Christian Church is commanded to remember the poor, especially to the household of faith. They are exhorted to be active in charity work.

Galatians 2:10: Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Galatians 6:10: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Romans 15:26: For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

In fact, the poor are in a privileged position as far as the reception of the gospel of Christ is concerned.

Mark 10:23: And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

James 2:5: Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

Hence, Christians are admonished to be involved in good works, especially in the area concerning helping the poor.

1 Timothy 6:17: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
1 Timothy 6:18: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
1 Timothy 6:19: Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Titus 3:8: This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:14: And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Charity work should come naturally for a Christian. However, Christians must be careful not to think that participating with some charity organizations to perform charity work is inline with biblical exhortation. Some organizations could be a front where subversive elements could be present to undermine the government of the day.

The gospel of John also presented the same case concerning the act of this woman. Insidious agenda of one crafty character championing for the plight of the poor is revealed.

John 12:3: Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
John 12:4: Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
John 12:5: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
John 12:6: This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
John 12:7: Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
John 12:8: For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

Judas Iscariot who outwardly seemed to be very concerned about the poor turned out to be a thief and a traitor as well. He knew how to be politically correct and endear himself with the people. He knew how to position himself and to exact maximum effect for his agenda. Moreover, he was in charged of finance for the organization he was affiliated with. He was saying all the right thing as a front but he had some ulterior motives.

Very often, those shout the loudest about helping the poor might turn out to be thieves. The abuse and excesses of top management of some charity organizations are quite astounding. Sometimes only a small portion of the donations is trickled down to those really in need because the bureaucracy has already eaten up much of the funds meant for the poor.

Non-profit organizations can be very profitable for certain people. It is quite easy to tug at the heartstrings of people to help the poor in order to lighten their purses, especially for those who believe that such good work will earn them merits on judgment day and accord them salvation and an entrance into the pearly gates having rejected the free gift of eternal life from the Lord.

Should Christians wish to be involved in charity organizations, they should do it in their personal capacity and not as Christians, lest they found to be fools when the organization they are serving in turned out to be fraudulent. It would be worse if such organizations have been infiltrated by characters with subversive agenda to cause trouble for the State.

Helping the poor is a biblical commandment for Christians. The left wing liberals are hijacking this biblical commandment for their own agenda to pressure the State and cause trouble to those in authority. Look at the refugee crisis in Europe where nations descend into chaos in the name of helping the poor and their citizens suffer as a result. Let no Bible believing Christians join hand with such organizations and be found to be at ought with the State where Christians become a political threat and a force to be reckoned with in the political arena. This is not what the biblical commandment for helping the poor is meant.

Titus 3:1: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

It is much better for Christians to be obedient to the words of the living God to be charitable helping those in need quietly in simplicity. This will ensure all his sacrifice would go directly to the needy and not to some middle man trying to facilitate the charity work.

James 1:27: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Let your good work be done in simplicity away from the limelight of the world. Your charity will not go unnoticed in the highest court in heaven.

Psalms 112:9: He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.

Psalms 140:12: I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

Psalms 9:18: For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.


Serve the Lord or Yourself?

Luke 10:38: Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
Luke 10:39: And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
Luke 10:40: But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Luke 10:41: And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
Luke 10:42: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

The context here shows two ladies who were sisters one being very busy while the other simply kept her focus on the Lord. It is pretty obvious one was doing a lot of work while the other was seemingly idling. The overworked sister complained to the Lord to compel her sister to help her with the work she thought would be important in her view on serving the Lord.

From a human standpoint, this was really unfair. One was shouldering all the load while the other was rather carefree. Based on Martha’s complaint, Marry seemed to be a shirker of duty. Looking through the lens from a human worldly point of view, Martha’s request was justified and Marry should not be allowed to indulge in her own ways.

Unfortunately, the Lord has a penchant of interpreting labour, effort, motives and spiritual quality of a person differently from man’s point of view. Not only the Lord did not accede to Martha’s demands, she was even told her priority was all wrong. Martha’s outburst got her no where.

Martha was actually quite rude laying some blame on the Lord for not taking notice on how she was left on her own to serve Him. Due to her familiarity with the Lord, she took for granted this entitled her the privilege to charge the Lord for being unfair and guilty of favouritism in how the two of them were treated.

How did Martha get to this stage of a burnout? There was no question she had been busy and doing all the work. The trouble was she was doing everything in her own view was the way the Lord should be served. It was purely her own opinion and she expected her sister to adopt the same.

No where did the Lord tell her how she ought to serve or what she had to do in serving Him. Her labour was not commissioned by the Lord and this added no value to her soul in serving the Lord this way according to her own understanding and on her own terms. Worse still, she demanded her sister to follow suit laying such bondage upon others according to her own foolish understanding.

As such, very quickly she lost her joy of serving the Lord because it was all done in the energy of the flesh. Had she succeeded in her endeavour, she might probably glory in her effort instead of giving glory to the Lord. The focus was on her labour and effort and not on the Lord. So how would you expect the Lord to respond?

Mary was right. Her focus was on the Lord giving the Lord all her undivided attention in which the Lord truly deserved. Her attention was on the Lord and not on some work and she was rightfully commended. But for Martha, her own work took centre stage and became her object of glory. It is dangerous to take satisfaction in human effort in serving the Lord, especially work based on human understanding where the Lord was not part of the entire equation.

The episode on these two sisters is instruction here. How often do you see Christians running hither and thither where in their own mind and own view , they were serving the Lord and then they burned out along the way? Some fell into the same category of Martha. They murmur and complain why the Lord is so unfair and allows others to slack while they serve all on their own.

This is the result of not getting their orders from above and they start to run around in circles thinking they were actually serving the Lord. To make matters worse, they start to look around sideways and complain why others were not as zealous and faithful like them in serving the Lord according to their own opinion and understanding.

The Lord clearly came to promise rest to our souls. For the Lord claims:

Matthew 11:29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 11:30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The moment anyone felt his effort and labour became too heavy in serving the Lord like what Martha experienced with lost of joy, then the Lord has no part in such service. The apostle Paul also at times felt weary in the work of the Lord physically yet there was no hint of murmur or complain or lost of joy in the Lord’s work.

If the work we do for the Lord is commissioned from above, then there is no room for murmuring and complaining and looking at others wondering why they are not doing what we are doing. Should the work we endeavour for the Lord is based on looking at what others are doing, then there is great possibility of burnout because we thought we were serving the Lord but we were actually serving to please men and to covet the praise of men. We are simply imitating what others are doing and not doing what the Lord wants us to do. Serving the Lord is not a competition with fellow Christians to see who serves more and who serves best.

The primary work for the Lord is to spend time on the words of the living God and seek the Lord in prayer much like what Marry was doing and was commended by the Lord. Spending time sitting at Jesus’ feet is important otherwise how do we know what the Lord wants us to do for Him? This is really the one thing that is needful so choose the good part to spend time with the Lord like Marry. There is no point following the footsteps of Martha running ahead of the Lord without knowing what the Lord delights in and then fall into self-pity and discouragement and even despair.

It is important to know what the Lord expects from us and not what some church leaders expect us to do. If you have been so busy running your life around the church calendar and neglected to spend time on the words of God and with the Lord in prayer, don’t be surprise when you end up like Martha wallowing in frustration living out a meaningless and joyless existence deceiving yourself you are in the Lord’s service.

This will not only cost you lost of joy, it may bring trouble on your loved ones especially when you think you are serving the Lord revolving your life around the church calendar and then your family gets neglected along the way. It is not the Lord’s will to break your family in order to serve Him. It is the Lord’s will for you to keep your family in good spiritual health so that your church life will be fruitful and are able to edify one another in the Lord.

Always ensure we do what the Lord wants us to do for Him and not what others expect or think what we should do for the Lord. How we serve the Lord is none of the business of others be they church leaders or otherwise. The tendency to compare with what others are doing for the Lord is very common, even the apostle Peter was guilty of such weakness.

John 21:20: Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
John 21:21: Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
John 21:22: Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Don’t ever benchmark your service for the Lord based on what others are doing. What others are doing for the Lord is none of our business. Be yourself and do your best for the Lord. You have your unique role to play to be a blessing to others and to be useful for the Lord’s work. Your rewards will be sure.