2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Brothers and sisters:
You know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day
we worked, so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you,
we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work,
neither should that one eat.
We hear that some are conducting themselves
among you in a disorderly way,
by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.
Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ
to work quietly and to eat their own food.
God’s greatest gift to humanity, aside from the gift of life, is the terrifying gift of free will—the favoring of one thing and the eschewal of another, informed by reason.
The Latin root of the word “terrify” is terrificare. To “terrify” is to cause to feel extreme fear. And terrifying precisely is God’s gift of free will, for when our free will is exercised to evil, the consequences are disastrous.
Terrifying though it is, free will is given to humans (and angels) because only by freely electing to believe in, obey, honor, and love God do the preceding acts have authenticity and meaning. For what good is a love that is coerced? As St. Thomas Aquinas put it, “Man has free will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in vain.”¹
¹Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947), p. 418.
The above reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is a powerful statement against the institution of government-enforced welfare, an institution that has become colossal and immovable in our time in the form of the bloated welfare state.
Christians are exhorted to be charitable. Charity is something voluntarily given to help the poor and the needy, which studies show conservatives give more in both money and services than liberals. (Conservatives also believe more in free will and have stronger will power.)
But welfare, the revenue for which is extracted via confiscatory taxation, is not charity because it is enforced, that is, involuntary. And as St. Paul pointed out in his letter to Philemon, a good deed that is coerced is no longer good:
I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
And yet liberal Christians precisely support this enforced charity — which is an oxymoron — in the name of “social justice”. Paradoxically, those same liberal Christians are “pro-choice” when it comes to the government-sanctioned murder of unborn and entirely innocent human beings who most certainly are denied any choice in the matter.
For the martyrdom of Paul, see “St. Paul, whom Christ struck blind”.
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,