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Who Are the Rich?


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We learn from Benjamin that:

  1. the rich are those who have more substance than required to meet their immediate needs,
  2. the poor are those who have only the substance required to meet their immediate needs,
  3. the beggars are those who lack the substance required to meet their immediate needs and petition us for it, and
  4. one covets a thing if one would not freely give it upon request.

 

There is no middle-class in this schema: there are only the rich (those who have more than they immediately need), the poor (those who have only what they immediately need), and the needy (those who have less than they immediately need).

 

Using these definitions, we ask a few preliminary questions.

  1. If you have a 3-month supply of money, are you poor?
  2. If you have a year's supply of food, are you poor?
  3. If you have a retirement fund, are you poor?

 

Mosiah 4:16-27

 

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor;

ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need,

and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain

and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say:

The man hath brought upon himself his misery;

therefore I will stay my hand and will not give unto him of my food,

nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer,

for his punishments are just.

18 But I say unto you, O man:

Whosoever doeth this, the same hath great cause to repent;

and except he repenteth of that which he hath done,

he perisheth forever and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars?

Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God,

for all the substance which we have,

for both food and raiment and for gold and for silver

and for all the riches which we have, of every kind?

 

20 And behold, even at this time ye have been calling on his name

and begging for a remission of your sins.

And hath he suffered that ye have begged in vain?

Nay, he hath poured out his Spirit upon you

and hath caused that your hearts should be filled with joy

and hath caused that your mouths should be stopped,

that ye could not find utterance,

so exceeding great was your joy.

 

21 And now if God, who hath created you,

on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are,

doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right,

in faith believing that ye shall receive,

O then how had ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another!

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you

for your substance that he perish not,

and condemn him,

how much more just will be your condemnation

for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God,

to whom also your life belongeth,

and yet ye put up no petition or repenteth not of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you:

Woe be unto that man,

for his substance shall perish with him.

And now I say these things unto those which are rich

as pertaining to the things of this world.

 

24 And again I say unto the poor, ye that have not

and yet hath sufficient that ye remain from day to day

—I mean all you that deny the beggar because ye have not—

I would that ye say in your hearts

that I give not because I have not,

but if I had, I would give.

25 And now if ye say this in your hearts,

ye remain guiltless;

otherwise ye are condemned,

and your condemnation is just,

for ye covet that which ye have not received.

 

26 And now for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you

—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day,

that ye may walk guiltless before God—

I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor,

every man according to that which he hath,

such as feeding the hungry,

clothing the naked,

visiting the sick and administering to their relief,

both spiritually and temporally according to their wants.

 

27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order,

for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than what he hath strength.

And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent,

that thereby he might win the prize.

Therefore all things must be done in order.

 

=====

 

Questions:

  1. What does the phrase "ye yourselves" in v. 16 mean in modern English?
  2. What does the phrase "ye will administer" in v. 16 mean in modern English?
  3. What does the phrase "ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain" in v. 16 mean in modern English?
  4. What are some specific examples of how people might bring upon themselves the misery of homelessness or of hunger or of thirst or of lack of clothing or of illness or of imprisonment (v. 17)?
  5. How might we say "for his punishments are just" in modern English (v.17)?
  6. Are we excused from granting a beggar's petition if the beggar is in need because he has done any of those things mentioned in response to question 4?
  7. What is the sole excuse Benjamin mentions for not giving to beggars who petition us (v. 24-25)?
  8. If we retain a remission of our sins from day to day, and are walking guiltlessly before God, are we sinners (v. 26)?
  9. If we are not sinners, what are we?
  10. What is the referent to "all these things" in v. 27?
  11. What does it mean to "see that all these things are done in wisdom and in order?" (v. 27)
  12. If we fail to do all of "these things," have we done "all these things" "in wisdom and in order?" (v. 27)

 

Bonus: Are Benjamin's instructions binding upon us?  If so, how so?  If not, why not?

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I think that for most of us, we are rich, especially compared to the world as a whole.

And I would say that the words of Benjamin are binding as far as they repeat Christ's admonisions concerning charity, loving our brother as ourselves, and taking care of the poor.  Otherwise, the words and teachings in the past, especially to a specific person or group of people, are not necessarily binding on us today.

This is why we don't teach that we all need to give away everything that we have to follow Him or be saved, as Christ told the rich young lord.

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59 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think that for most of us, we are rich, especially compared to the world as a whole.

I'd like to qualify this one sentence - and - I don't mean to demean the OP with hair-splitting.

Some of benefits of Western US culture are mandatory. eg: Electricity, parents who can't unfailingly afford it risk having their children seized. Employment, it is generally impossible to sustain a household via sustenance providing; most Americans are forced to subject themselves to the beneficial and/or harmful aspects of employers. Personal Transportation, most sq mi of the US requires PT to sustain employment.

edit: Our standard of poverty is higher and is largely forced upon us. This is an assessment, not a judgment.

Edited by Chum
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8 hours ago, Jared Livesey said:
  • If you have a 3-month supply of money, are you poor?
  • If you have a year's supply of food, are you poor?
  • If you have a retirement fund, are you poor?

The assumption with each of these is that they are the only factor that differentiates my condition from typical US poverty.

1) Yes. I'm on the fringe of poverty where one very minor and ordinary calamity could wipe that out.

2) Yes. See #1

3) Yes. See #1

caveat: Like many, my 2020 income could be less than my requisite bills and I could be steadily depleting each of those reserves.

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The best way to help the poor and the beggars is to see that they can do meaningful work unless disabled and even then there are many disabled who can do much good. As missionaries in Central America we were discouraged(unless moved upon by the Spirit ) from giving money to beggars. We could and did offer to buy them food. Mostly they refused. 

Most of us individuals have no real ability to directly help with drug addiction or mental health. We can , however, petition to create treatment centers for these problems. A serious problem is homelessness . In San Fran housing has been priced out of reach and we see the result with tent cities not far from million dollar homes. Makes me wonder if Sodom was any worse. 

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11 hours ago, Jared Livesey said:

We learn from Benjamin that:

  1. the rich are those who have more substance than required to meet their immediate needs,
  2. the poor are those who have only the substance required to meet their immediate needs,
  3. the beggars are those who lack the substance required to meet their immediate needs and petition us for it, and
  4. one covets a thing if one would not freely give it upon request.

 

There is no middle-class in this schema: there are only the rich (those who have more than they immediately need), the poor (those who have only what they immediately need), and the needy (those who have less than they immediately need).

 

Using these definitions, we ask a few preliminary questions.

  1. If you have a 3-month supply of money, are you poor?
  2. If you have a year's supply of food, are you poor?
  3. If you have a retirement fund, are you poor?

 

Bonus: Are Benjamin's instructions binding upon us?  If so, how so?  If not, why not?

Based upon the narrow definitions given here, I would suspect that anyone with a home, Internet, and the time to invest, would qualify as “rich”. I would, via my family alone. 

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2 hours ago, strappinglad said:

The best way to help the poor and the beggars is to see that they can do meaningful work unless disabled and even then there are many disabled who can do much good.

It is unfortunate that many assistance programs penalize for becoming more self sufficient. 

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