No, Jesus Christ Wasn’t a Socialist
For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: “If a man does not work, he shall not eat”
Spanish – Ever so often, some foolish people will say that Jesus Christ was a socialist. A few days ago, it was the famous Colombian actress Margarita Rosa de Francisco who spoke flippantly as usual and said that Jesus Christ was a “mamerto.” In Colombia, a mamerto is a leftist.
I have often heard people say that Jesus Christ is against private property, that he does not love the rich, and that he despises business owners. Similarly, some misinterpret certain bible verses and imagine Jesus Christ as a hippie who is the enemy of capitalism.
Many point to the episode of the rich young man in Matthew 19. When a young man asks Jesus Christ what he must do to live eternally, the Lord reminds him of the commandments and tells him: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The Bible says that when the young man heard these words, he went away sad because he had many possessions.
Thus, some claim that Jesus Christ is a leftist and is against the accumulation of money. It is not that money and wealth are, in general, an impediment to loving God. Jesus Christ is not against the creation of wealth; what is wrong is worshipping this money as though it is God.
The first commandment says: you shall love God above all things. The Lord knew that this young man had a particular weakness for money and that he loved his wealth more than he loved God, so he asked him to give everything to the poor. He was testing whether he was capable of prioritizing God.
The rich young man’s verses in Matthew 19 are not a command for all wealthy to give away their possessions. It is a reminder to love God above all else because we rely on him and not on money. And that if at some point, we do not have material wealth, we should still love Him because although we Christians enjoy material things, our greatest wealth and cherished treasure should be spiritual.
Some bring up what is written in John 2:13 when Jesus Christ becomes angry with the traders who sell their wares in the temple and casts them out, saying, “Take these away and do not make my Father’s house a market place.” Some unwary people say that this verse suggests that God does not like commerce. However, the Lord does not mean that he dislikes commerce; what he explicitly says is that he dislikes trade activities in the Father’s house. The fact is that the church is a holy place destined to praise God, not to do business.
An intelligent and detailed reading of these verses reveals a completely different meaning than that the interpretations by those who see Jesus Christ as a leftist enemy of capitalism. In Matthew 25:14, the Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that he is not against the accumulation of wealth or the creation of value. He goes so far as to applaud the diligent businessman and condemn the lazy person who does not make an effort to produce.
In the parable of the talents, a master distributes talents to his three servants, expecting them to work and multiply. When he returns and sees that one of the servants has not used the given talent, and has instead hidden it in the ground, he becomes angry and accuses him of negligence. The master says, “you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and when I came, I would have received back my own with interest… Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is not against bankers, nor merchants, nor those who create wealth. On the contrary, he applauds those who invest and refers to those who are negligent and refuse to trade with the capital given to them as “unprofitable servants.”
Moreover, there are many verses in which the Lord gives commandments that are utterly contrary to the guidelines of socialism. Jesus Christ is not leftist. Furthermore, a real Christian cannot be a socialist.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, we read the subtitle “The duty to work.” Verse 7 says: For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, in labor and toil, we worked night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you…”
It even goes further, and in verse 10, we read, “For even while we were with you, we gave you this command: If anyone is unwilling to work, he shall not eat.” All this is very different from the speeches of the socialists who claim that we all have the right to food, housing, education, and a thousand other things. There is no such thing in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ, who some misguided people call a socialist, makes it clear to us that we must work hard and that those who do not work do not deserve their daily bread.
Verse 11 says: Yet we hear that some of you are leading undisciplined lives and accomplishing nothing but being busybodies. 12. We command and urge such people by our Lord Jesus Christ to begin working quietly to earn their own living. 13. But as for you, brothers, do not grow weary in well-doing.”
We have to be entrepreneurs, prospectors, tireless workers, not be a burden on others. We must earn our daily bread. That is what the Lord commands, so of course, Jesus Christ is not a socialist.
Besides the teachings in the book of Thessalonians about hard work and the clear command that he who does not work shall not eat, in different verses of the book of Proverbs, we find lessons about the harms of laziness and the benefits of being industrious and diligent.
Proverbs 10:4 Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes so is the lazy one to those who send him. Proverbs 13:4 The lazy man craves yet has nothing, but the soul of the diligent is fully satisfied. Proverbs 22:13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I will be slain in the streets!” Proverbs 20:4 The lazy man does not plow in season; at harvest time he looks, but nothing is there.
What will leftists, who read books like “The Right to Laziness,” written by Karl Marx’s son-in-law, say of all this? The left believes that we are born with a right to everything. They think that work is a punishment. The true Christian, on the contrary, sees laziness as a sin because that is what Jesus Christ taught us.
Proverb 6:9-11: “How long will you lie there, lazy man? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber and need like a bandit.
Our Lord Jesus Christ urges us through different verses to be diligent and harsworking. He condemns the lazy and the negligent who do not use the money well. He also says bluntly, “If a man does not work, he shall not eat.” Jesus Christ is not a socialist.