Matthew 5:40–42 and the Charity Question
Since I believe the bible contains zero evidence that Jesus would support an involuntary, government run, inefficient “charity,” what do I think about Matthew 5:40–42?
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you (ESV).
Jesus was teaching individual people — his followers — to give to those who asked.
These instructions apply to Christians today also. It’s not a set of instructions about how to achieve a just society (that’s in Romans 13 somewhat). Jesus was giving instructions about how to change one’s own attitude and change someone else’s heart.
Take the whole Bible into account.
These instructions have to be read in light of Jesus’ other words, including that his disciples should travel with a sword.
Also Paul said a man should provide for his own family.
If someone were endangering my life or my family, I would not turn my cheek.
Paul and Jesus didn’t either in that situation (See Acts and John).
I wouldn’t make the instructions in Matthew 5 apply to all cases in the same way.
What does apply in all cases is that we should seek to restore even our enemies. And to heap burning coals on their heads with kindness that brings them to shame (Romans 12:20).
Notice the ethic is not one of altruistically, guiltily owing things to other people (Romans 13:8), but of owing love to them, for the purpose of building God’s kingdom.