This world we inhabit is one of so many mitigating circumstances. Even issues that should be clear cut and have no room for misinterpretation often do. As Christians, we have our guidebook, the Bible, to help us discern many of these issues, yet with conditions as they are, even then we are left to struggle to find a definitive answer. Luckily, many times Jesus points us to the answer we seek, but even so, once in a while it all comes down to doing what just seems to 'feel' right at the time.
In the Bible, Jesus talks of saying to someone to go and stay warm and be well, but doing nothing to aid a person in the process. I've done this except I provided the things that were needed to do it. At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing. Yet, looking back, I wasn't. I was providing necessities to people who were able to work, yet chose not to. I was enabling them to spend on things they wanted, as opposed to needed, because I was giving them what they needed. When they did work, their money went for other things. Foolish of me, I know, but I felt sorry for them.
Jesus also talks of people who are lazy--no work, no food, more or less. He refers to issues like this often in the Bible. My mother says it's so hard for her to sit down to eat dinner and be wondering if all the members of her family are eating too. Guilt drives her to give money, food, and possessions to people. But these people are doing without because they chose to. They chose to not work, or work and then spend the money on other stuff. Then they call up trusty Mom or Grandma and plead hard times and because my mom has such a soft heart, she gives in and then kicks herself for it. I am the same way so I tell her to do what I do on occasion--just don't answer the calls for help.
Unfortunately, this is one issue that pops up frequently in my family. I have many opportunities to mull this one over. And I think I have arrived at the solution. It's very simple, really, yet difficult to do. I'm glad Jesus talked about it so much, clearly presenting both ends of the spectrum. I think I know exactly what Jesus would do in this type of situation.
If a man (or woman) is able to work, and doesn't, then have they not made their choice? If a person is just too lazy to get up and go to a regular job, or foolishly spend their money on non-necessities instead of food, shelter, and the like, then why should anyone else have to suffer for their poor decisions? They shouldn't.
If someone is out of work through no fault of their own, or bogged down by bills, yet trying to stand up anyway and take care of business, but they just can't seem to get there, then I think that person is deserving of help. I don't want to help people who lay around watching TV all day, and say, "Gosh, I'm hungry. I'm cold because my electricity is off. I need you to feed me and pay my bill so I can keep laying here on this couch, full and warm!" This sounds terrible, I know, but I know people just like this. Or worse, they cry, "I'm so hungry--I just don't know what to do. I haven't eaten since day before yesterday. Boo-hoo! Feel sorry for me yet?" Um, have you even tried to get a job? No? Hmmmmm.
I am a very soft hearted person. I don't want anyone to suffer needlessly. Notice that I said needlessly. Because I have bills and like to eat, I get up every morning and go to work. Like millions of other people. I'm not waiting for a handout. I'm working to help provide for my family. My husband works to provide for our family. Do we want to go out and slave for someone else? Well, we both like our jobs, but given the choice, I'd rather be writing all day and getting paid for it, and my husband would prefer to sleep in more often instead of working sixty hour weeks. I think we'll always work--our choices would just be different.
So, as far as I can discern, here is Jesus's answer to this issue. We don't have to help people who are just plain lazy. We do have to help those who are in binds not of their own making, or even of their own making, who are trying their best to do it for themselves.
I hope this helps someone else who might be wondering about the same thing. If anyone has a better way to present this, I'd love to hear it.
I am convinced that if Jesus were standing before some of those people I know, He would be telling them, "Go get a job!"