In our day to day life, we come across people who don’t have enough food to eat, proper dress to wear and safe shelter to stay in. They are under the grab of poverty which kills them little by little. There will be poor people around us all the time (Deuteronomy 15:11). As Christians, God expects us to help them come out of poverty and help them have a standard living.
Causes of poverty according to the Bible
People in this world struggle for their basic needs every day. Because of hunger and diseases due to poverty, thousands of people die every day around the globe. The Bible tells us the cause of poverty in the lives of people.
1. The curse upon mankind
When Adam and Eve disobeyed the word of God and sinned against the Almighty God, God cursed the earth and man. God said to the man, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
Pain and grief were given as a curse to the fallen world. Hunger, homeless situations are all part of this curse. It is naturally brought into the world because of the sin of Adam and Eve and it continues to follow generation by generation.
God gives poverty to people according to His sovereign will. No man can question His Sovereignty (1 Samuel 2:7). But we can help those who suffer from poverty to come out of it.
2. Laziness and unwanted expenses
When a person is not willing to work to provide for his family, it leads to poverty. Lazy man cannot get rich and he will be poor (Proverbs 20:13). It affects his whole family and they become without any support.
A person who want to spend more than his earnings to have short time pleasures and not having care for his family will become poor (Proverbs 21:17). Those who destroy their income for wine and strong drink without using it for their basic needs will become poor
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. -Proverbs 23:21
His family and dependents will suffer from hunger and poverty as he doesn’t care for them and run after his own pleasure alone.
3. Disobeying the statutes of God
When the people of God don’t obey the word of God and keep His statutes and commandments, poverty is given as a curse for them (Deuteronomy 28:15-31).
What does the Bible say about fighting against poverty?
In the old testament, God instructed the people of Israelites to help poor people around them. For that, He has given them a law to keep aside a tithe for poor and needy people every third year.
“When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled.” -Deuteronomy 26:12
God was concerned about the poor people and so He instructed them not to oppress the poor and needy workers.
“You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns.” -Deuteronomy 24:14
The word of God says that, we should have compassion for those who are suffering because of poverty.
Wages of workers cannot be withheld as he needs that money for his food on that day (Deuteronomy 24:25). We need to help the poor and needy people get their food and shelter.
If someone asks for help, we should not hesitate to give and turn our faces back to them. Instead, we need to help them with what we have (Luke 6:30).
What does Jesus say about helping others?
When Jesus came into the world as a child, He did not born in a Palace. Instead, He was born in a stable to show the love and concern of the Father upon poor people and the cursed mankind. He became poor to make us rich. He carried all the curses of mankind including the curse of poverty in the cross and freed them.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. -2 Corinthians 8:9
Jesus lived an exemplary life that we have to follow. When He saw people staying without food, He had compassion on them and He gave them food (Mark 6:35-42). Whenever He saw someone suffering, He helped them to get freedom.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the kingdom to the poor people (Matthew 11:5). Jesus said that whatever we do for the people in need, we have done it for God.
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ -Matthew 25:40
Jesus wants us to love and support the poor people and so He told us to invite the poor people who cannot return anything back to us for our celebrations. When we help the poor, it adds up our treasures in heaven.
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” -Luke 14:13-14
How does the church respond to poverty?
In the early church, people sold all their possessions and brought them before the Apostles. So they kept everything in common and utilized it whenever they needed it. So there was no poor and needy as they have shared everything among themselves (Acts 4:32,34,35).
God wants us to share our wealth with those who are in need. He has given us wealth and prosperity for a purpose. He wants us to be a blessing to others. Storing up treasures won’t make us rich. Instead, sharing it with the needy people will make us rich before God.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. -Psalm 112:9
As the church of Christ, we need to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ to have compassion for people with hunger and needs and help them. God has chosen the poor people to be rich in faith and they are also heirs of the kingdom of God. So we should not dishonor and oppress them (James 2:5).
We need to give generously and wholeheartedly. It is not a compulsion in the new covenant to help people. But if we do that, we are doing it to our Savior Jesus Christ.
Helping widows and orphans
Because of uncaring and drunkard fathers, many children become fatherless and destitute. Even though they have fathers, they don’t look after their families. God wants to be their father and provide their needs. But many people don’t know the love of this Eternal father and running towards hell.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. -Psalm 68:5
It is the responsibility of each and every child of God to share the Gospel of love to them and at the same time help them with our wealth to fight against poverty and hunger. God wants us to stand on their side when people rise against them (Deuteronomy 27:19). When we see a widow or orphan is being oppressed, we should help them and deliver them (Exodus 22:22).
Our God is the one who loves the poor and needy and provides them food and clothing in their hunger and desperate need (Deuteronomy 10:18). He wants us to do the same to them. We need to strengthen
the widows in faith and help them grow in Christ (1 Timothy 5:5).
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. -James 1:27
Helping poor and homeless
When we see a poor without food and shelter to stay, we need to have compassion, and help them. Our God is the one who provides home for the homeless. We should not keep their basic essentials as a pledge for their loan. We should be compassionate enough to provide their basic needs when we see they don’t have it (Deuteronomy 24:12,13).
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. -Psalm 68:6
We should not hide our faces to the people in need. In times of poverty, we need to support and assist them as the children of God and great ambassadors of Christ. We need to be kind to the poor and needy people and share our food with them when they are hungry. We need to share generously with them.
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. -Proverbs 22:9
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. -Proverbs 28:27
People suffer without a way to treat their diseases due to poverty. We can help them by giving money to have their treatment. We can also help them by providing health care facility if we have access to it or if we are a health care worker as the Good Samaritan did to his neighbor.
Helping children of God in poverty
For the sake of the kingdom of God, many servants of God are suffering from poverty. We need to help them as it is for the work of God and provide their needs.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. -Romans 12:13