Regarding The Poor And Poverty Gods Word Says:
1. We should extend a helping hand to those who are poor or in need. God expects this from us on both the individual and social level .
2. Helping the poor is an act of righteousness God promises to reward in the age to come .
3. Helping the poor by providing them with opportunities to work and learn to provide for themselves is Gods preferred solution . If people are poor because they will not work they should not be taken care of .
4. We should not favor the legal rights of the poor over the rich, nor the rights of the rich over the poor . Righteous judgment addresses all people equally.
5. Poverty will always be with us in the present evil age .
6. Poverty will be properly addressed and eradicated in the age to come .
Jesus told His disciples, The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me .
This statement tells us a lot.
It is not Gods purpose or plan to eradicate poverty, or to remedy the unequal distribution of wealth in this present evil age, otherwise He would do so. God is all-powerful and He could eradicate poverty if He chose to. We must accept that He does not choose to do so at this time.
Even so, He expects us to help the poor.
The Power Of Confession
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me my vitality was turned into the drought of summer.Psalm 32:4
California is a dry state that needs water to be transported over many miles to population and agricultural centers. Snowfall in the winter and melting snow in the spring are critical factors in replenishing shrinking reservoirs. In periods of modern droughts, aerial photographs document the receding water levels in reservoirs around the stateshorelines growing wider and drier as water levels fall.
Such is the picture David paints with his words in Psalm 32a drought of spiritual vitality brought on by his own sin. When he failed to confess his sin to God, his bones grew old and he groaned all the day long . It was like his soul was being evaporated by the heat of his own guilt and shame. But then the rains of grace came and David confessed his sin and God forgave him . And he encouraged his readers not to make the same mistake he had made .
Confession and repentance reveal the access to restoration. Hiding sin does not remove it from Gods sight but when we seek Gods forgiveness, the refreshing living water from the Father is poured out on us and we are restoredthat is the power of confession.
The way to cover our sin is to uncover it by confession.Richard Sibbes
I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure.Psalm 119:162
The Bible Does Not Condemn Wealth And Neither Should We The Bible Does Not Uphold Poverty As The Pathway To Righteousness Nor Should We
We can know that the presence or absence of money is not the way we measure Gods blessing. Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all, notes Proverbs 22:2.
In Hebrews 11, often called the Faith Hall of Fame, you can read of heroes and martyrs, rich and poor, who made up the fabric of our Christian history.
What made them distinctive were not their bank accounts, but how they obediently used their opportunities to further the work of God on earth.
In fact, of those who suffered the most, the scripture says in verse 38, The world was not worthy of them.
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Hearing The Cries Of The Poor
“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”
It’s easy to look at this verse and assume that it’s saying that God doesn’t answer the prayers of those who ignore the needs of the poor, but that’s not really how God works. God doesn’t ignore us because of our failures. But how we treat others is one factor that He considers when considering how to respond.
The author of Proverbs wants to communicate something simple but profound. The Hebrews lived in a community. By ignoring the cries of the poor, they would create a culture where it was easy to turn a blind eye toward needs. Unfortunately, they would eventually be the ones in need, and no one would answer when they cried out.
The Wickedness Of Selfishness
Scripture doesnt merely teach the praiseworthiness of helpfulness but also condemns its opposite, selfishness. This is the other side of It is more blessed to give than to receive. It is a cursed thing to act selfishly at anothers expense. God graciously warns us against walking down this path, which consumes those who take it.
Proverbs 3:27: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
Proverbs 21:13: Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
Ephesians 4:28: Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Philippians 2:3-4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
2 Thessalonians 3:10: For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
1 Timothy 5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
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The Early Church Focused On Smart Giving Right Away
But how are we to care for the impoverished? To start with, it begins with each of us examining our own resources to see if we can give more. We see a testimony to this in the early church. The radical, self-sacrificial giving that Jesus proposed actually happens. Some of the earliest descriptions of the church in Jerusalem include these lines:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need .
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had .
The resources the early church pooled together were used for the impoverished, for those on the underside of power:
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need .
Such efforts were directed at caring for the people most in need in their society, the widows and orphans and a plan was put in place to do so . The global church embraced the same ideals, as Pauls writings show . This means that the churches that sprung up around the world were instructed to see themselves as part of a global church, meeting the needs of each community .
The early church had a real strategy in place for caring for the poor and it was smart and sustainable.
Who Are The Poor
Anyone who lacks sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society is considered poor. There are many reasons someone could be poor. Sometimes poverty is the result of foolish decisions , and other times poverty is no fault of ones own . Often, systemic injustices contribute to the cycle of poverty . Poverty, though, does not deprive a person of his or her humanness. Everyone bears the image of God because we are humanscreated by God and made in his image. The reason for someones poverty shouldnt determine the value we place on him or her, and the way we treat the poor around us is a reflection of how we view their Maker .
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A Poor Person Can Have Great Faith
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on. This woman showed amazing faith that God would provide for her when she gave all of her money. She did not rely on herself at all. She put complete trust in God. She is an amazing role model for all of us to follow.
The Lord Secures Justice
“I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”
In Leviticus 25:3536, God tells the Israelites that when it comes to dealing with the poor, they need to fear Him. Throughout Scripture, God encourages His people to be generous and fair to the poor, but He reminds them that justice is coming one way or anotherand it’s much better to choose to act justly than to experience God’s justice.
You can learn more about this topic in the post 24 Informative Bible Verses about Justice.
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Some Practical Ideas For Serving The Poor
Ways in which you can help the poor can be almost as varied as there are people to be helped. It could be as simple as treating someone to a cup of coffee or a glass of cold water, or providing shelter or long-term assistance. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this and to give you his heart for the poor. Your compassion will grow as you seek God and His heart.
Some ideas show love to widows and orphans provide free medical care help at your local soup kitchen for the homeless make a blanket or quilt to be donated to services that will give them away provide shelter or clothing donate money to trustworthy Christian organizations like Compassion International, Food for the Hungry, or World Vision care for those in prison babysit some night for a single mom you know get to know refugees in your community take time to listen to those in need visit your local nursing home or hospital fix up someones house or car etc.
Never forget Gods promises to those who help the poor! Start looking today for ways you can show the love of Christ to those in need.
Author: Tim Cowley, Christian Answers
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Help The Poor Among You
“If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.”
Hospitality was nonnegotiable among the Israelites. As a light to the Gentiles, and all nations, actually , the Israelites were expected to treat the sojourners among them with dignity and respect. This same level of respect was to be shown to any Israelite who became poorwhich even meant loaning money to them at no interest.
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Uphold The Cause Of The Poor
“Defend the weak and the fatherless uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
God is not naive. He knows that there’s a tendency for the strong to exploit the weak. He demands that His people rule in a way that protects the vulnerable.
What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said The Poor You Will Always Have With You
Poverty can never be overcome right? Its a problem that simply cant be solved.
After all, Jesus said, The poor you will ALWAYS have with you.
Its right there in Scripture. John chapter 12. Verse 8.
So dont get too worried about tackling poverty and injustice sonny-boy. Its a losing battle. Tone down your revolutionary rhetoric and give up the fight.
Perhaps like me, you have experienced that metaphorical pat on the head. This verse is often used as an attempt to take the wind out of all the rest of Jesus commands to work for justice and to love mercy.
I reckon Jesus actually meant the OPPOSITE of what we usually take him to mean here. It seems to me that Jesus was actually advocating generosity and action to eradicate poverty, rather than hands-up-in-the-air, shoulder-shrugging apathy.
Heres my reasoning.
You know how some catch-phrases are just so well known, that everyone knows the ending you dont even really need to say it?
Sticks and stones.
Everyone already knows the ending, Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Just saying Sticks and Stones is enough for you to catch my drift.
It just so happens that in saying The poor you will always have with you, Jesus was quoting another well-known Biblical phrase from a well-known passage of the Jewish Torah. Everyone hearing him back then would have caught his drift. Heres the full original quote:
So what are you waiting for? Lets get on with it!
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Why Is Helping The Poor Important In Christianity
Many Christians believe it is part of their religious duty to help the poor. Many Christians living in rich nations feel they have a responsibility towards those in poorer nations. This means offering practical help as well as remembering them in prayer. Christians also concern themselves with their local area.
Why Would God Choose To Allow Poverty And Inequality
To effectively eradicate poverty and inequality our Creator would have to drastically reduce freedom of choice for humanity. Gods purpose for this age is to set before us a choice between His way of living and our own way of living. One leads to life, the other to death His desire is that we choose life.
God does not force His will upon us. Instead, in this present age, we are free to set up governments and cultural traditions apart and separate from God. He also allows each of us freedom to make personal choices about how we live our lives.
Poverty might come from bad personal choices, bad family choices, bad cultural norms, or even bad government policy. Some forms of poverty can be remedied by better personal decisions, some forms of poverty are beyond our control as individuals.
God has laid out principles and laws to deal with poverty in a meaningful and helpful way. Many of these laws and principles are found in the instructions God gave Israel, with additional clarifications in later writings, including the New Testament. When individuals or even governments choose to follow these principles good things happen.
However, the vast majority of humanity consistently rejects Gods instructions on such matters. Jesus observation that there will always be poor people is not cynical resignation, but a deep understanding of the human heart.
When Christ returns to establish the rule of God on earth, the necessary remedies for poverty will be applied to all humanity.
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The Prophets Were Infuriated When The Poor Were Neglected
Despite the great vision for a community that cared for the poor, the words of Israels prophets show that the impoverished were often neglected and oppressed. The words from the book of Isaiah that Jesus quotes near the beginning of his ministry were the vision of a better world, where the poor were loved. But Isaiah shows us that this vision was far from real in his lifetime:
Wash! Make yourselves clean! Remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes! Cease to do evil! Learn to do good! Seek justice! Rescue the oppressed! Defend the orphan! Plead for the widow! .
Other prophets show a similar frustration, commenting that the poor being treated with disdain is one of the gravest of sins:
This is what the LORD says: For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed .
There are dozens more examples like the above from Isaiah and Amos.
What Does The Lord Require Of You
Throughout Scripture, God reveals his heart for the poor. We see Gods concern for poor people when he speaks of the injustices toward them. Consider the prophets Amos and Micah. Although they were both ultimately getting at Israels heart-issue, in the process, they addressed Gods concern for the poor, Gods judgment on those who abuse the poor, and the reality of systemic injustice and the cycle of poverty.
The reason for someones poverty shouldnt determine the value we place on him or her, and the way we treat the poor around us is a reflection of how we view their Maker .
In light of Gods care for the poor people among us, how should we treat them? We should begin by remembering the words of Micah: Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God . This should guide us as we seek to care for poor people the way that God does. Jesus perfectly exemplified the heart of God and didnt neglect the poor or their needs. In fact, he tenderly cared for the poor and often spoke about how we should treat them.
Marissa Postell currently serves as the managing editor of content at NRB. She graduated from Union University with a degree in public relations, where she served as the news editor of Cardinal & Cream, the schools student publication. As a writer, Marissa hopes to tell compelling narratives to equip the Read More
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