(Rather than let this response to a recent question sent to us get buried somewhere in this website, we thought we’d post the answer here for others who have a similar question).
“Hi, I’m just wondering if it’s wrong to earn money to help the poor. I’m just confused because by helping the poor there is money involved. I know that I can help without using money but in order to give jobs to people and help them with their daily needs I have to earn money through doing business. Is it wrong?” -Jessa
Thanks for writing in! You have asked a reasonable question, one which a lot of people do ask us about.
I think it is best to be VERY honest with ourselves regarding our motive for earning money. Most people don’t earn a paycheck simply for the sake of helping the poor. If Jesus thought earning money was the answer to helping the poor, it’s extremely likely that we would have Him recorded as having declared this in the gospels. The fact is that we simply cannot find Jesus using this sort of reasoning in the gospels.
What is more interesting is that Jesus DID command us to sell ALL that we have and give the money we made from selling everything to the poor. This is part of his instructions to us called “forsaking all” as recorded in Luke 14:33:
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
..and again in Luke !2:32-34:
32″Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. 33″Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34″For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus also states emphatically that we can either work for God or work for money, but He says we cannot do both. It’s either one or the other:
No man can work for two masters, for either he will hate one and will love the other, or he will honor one and the other he will ignore. You cannot work for God and for money.
The real question is this: are we willing to take Jesus at his word, or do we think we’ve found a way that is superior to the wisdom of the One who grants eternal life? While on the surface it sounds noble to work for a paycheck and give some of that to the poor, our lives are wasted away working for the very thing (money) that is the actual cause of poverty. The money system and all it represents is man’s foolish and greedy attempts to steal from each other the resources that were made freely available to all of us. Think about this for a moment: Humans are the only species on this planet who actually make each other PAY to live here. The animals and plant life on this planet aren’t expecting pay from one another to exist. A tree doesn’t charge us when it freely feeds us with its fruit or enriches the earth with its oxygen.
So in conclusion, I would advise that you take Jesus seriously and literally on this all important teaching. Our good intentions to work for money in order to supposedly help the poor usually fall by the wayside once we begin to struggle for our own needs. (Although most people in the west are not truly struggling for needs, but are often obsessed with accumulating the things they want/desire).
Instead of dreaming of starting some business to employ the poor, why not sell all of your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, then come and work for God in a world gone mad with materialism? Part of working for God requires us to share this part of the message that came from Jesus. It may not be popular, and most professing “christians” will not even bother trying this. If anyone who says they believe in Jesus is not prepared to do these things in obedience to our Lord, they shouldn’t expect the eternal life promised to those who TRY to truly follow the teachings of Jesus.
What do you think, Jessa?