What does God in the Bible say about being poor? We have poverty in my Land, but many people in my country just seem to go deeper and deeper in debt with credit cards (Americans are now over 1 trillion dollars in the hole with credit card debt alone). Many are earning far less hourly here, so they've been using their cards to make up for what they used to get paid. They work hard, but now need hope more than ever before--they want to see some light at the end of a dark tunnel of poor and struggling.. if ya will. I really feel for them. Talk to many often. What a temptation, to over use the plastic when your company ain't cuttin' it for your bills! The Bible has a lot to say about being poor, and we have many examples of poor people in Scripture. Since material wealth is not a sure indication of God’s blessing, being poor is not necessarily a sign of God’s disapproval. In fact, it is possible to be poor in material things but rich in spiritual things (see Revelation 2:9).
Of course, sometimes being poor is the result of bad choices. The Bible warns that laziness will lead to being poor: “A little sleep, a little slumber, / a little folding of the hands to rest— / and poverty will come on you like a thief / and scarcity like an armed man” (Proverbs 27:33–34; cf. 6:11). Following wild dreams will likewise lead to poverty: “Those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty” (Proverbs 28:19), as will failing to heed wise advice: “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction” (Proverbs 13:18, ESV). In other places, the Bible portrays poor people as having been blessed, and many who are rich are seen in a negative light. Jesus Himself was poor, not having a home or a “place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). The disciples and most of Jesus’ followers were poor, at least in worldly terms, but rich in spiritual wealth. The disciples even left all they had to follow Him, giving up all they owned, placing their full trust in Him to provide what they needed. Jesus said the poor will always be with us (Matthew 26:11). There is no shame in being poor. Our attitude should be that of the writer in Proverbs who said, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). The rich are generally portrayed negatively in the Bible. Wealth itself is seen as a hindrance to those who desire to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus declared, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23), and He repeated this statement in the very next verse. Why did He make such a shocking statement? Because the rich tend to trust in their riches more than in God. Wealth tends to pull us away from God.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) displays the temporary nature of riches. The rich man enjoyed great luxury in life but spent eternity in hell because of his greed and covetousness. Lazarus suffered the indignities of extreme poverty but was comforted in heaven forever. Jesus Himself left His throne in heaven in order to take on the lowly form of a poor man. Paul said of Him, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
At some point, as Christians we must ask ourselves: What are we really doing here in this temporary place? Where is our heart (Luke 12:34)? Are we really denying ourselves? Are we really giving sacrificially as did the poor widow (Luke 21:1–4)? To follow Jesus is to take up our cross (Luke 9:23). This means to literally give our total lives to Him, unencumbered by the things of this world. In the parable of the sower, riches are like “thorns”: “The worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke [the Word], making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).
It is those thorns, “the worries of this life” and the “deceitfulness of wealth,” the not-so-subtle tools of Satan, that lure us away from God and His Word. The Bible paints for us a contrast between those who are poor yet rich in Christ and those who are rich yet without God.
How are we in God's Family to deal with it?
How should Christians respond to global poverty and hunger? According to the latest statistics, over 840 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished. Every day, 26,000 young children die due to poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases. With so much of the world’s population in such lamentable condition, what’s a Christian to do? How should the Church respond?
Christians should respond to global poverty and hunger with compassion. Having true compassion for the needy, as modeled by Jesus (Mark 8:2), means we are aware of the need, we care about the people involved, and we are ready to act on their behalf. Having compassion on a needy brother is proof of the love of God within us (1 John 3:17). We honor God when we are kind to the needy (Proverbs 14:31).
Christians should respond to global poverty and hunger with action. Of course, prayer for those in need is something every Christian can do. Beyond that, Christians should do all they can to alleviate the suffering caused by global poverty and hunger. Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:33-34). Like Tabitha, we should “always [be] doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36).
The believer who selflessly gives to the poor will be blessed by God. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, / and he will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17). These divine blessings may be spiritual rather than material, but a reward is guaranteed—giving to the poor is an investment in eternity.
There are several Christian relief organizations that work not only to combat global poverty and hunger, but also to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Groups such as Compassion International strive to meet the needs of the total person, both physical and spiritual.
Christians should respond to global poverty and hunger with hope. Believers can act on behalf of the poor with the confidence that they are helping further God’s work in the world: “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor / and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 140:12). Believers labor with the hope that Jesus will return, and “with righteousness he will judge the needy, / with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth” (Isaiah 11:4).
Until that day of ultimate equity, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). That being the case, we have unlimited opportunities—and the urgent obligation—to serve the Lord by serving others. Thank you, Got Questions?
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Kurt W. von Schleicher