What Does the Bible Say About the Poor?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 21, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As long as there is money in this world, there will be some people who have a lot of it and some who don’t have much of it. Today, we’re taking a look at what the Bible says about the poor.

Deuteronomy 15:11 tells us, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” While that was obviously written directly to the people of Israel, the principles apply to us today as well. 1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

In what’s known as the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus shares that whenever we give to the poor, it’s just like giving to Him. Similarly, Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Matthew 5:42 says, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

How should we give to those in need? Matthew 6:1-4 says, ““Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

In Luke 6:38 Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Toward the end of His earthly ministry, when Jesus’ feet were anointed using a jar of expensive perfume and the disciples questioned the wastefulness, Jesus told them, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:11).

The book of Proverbs has much wisdom on how we are to treat the poor. Proverbs 22:22-23 says, “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.” Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

Jesus told His disciples, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. … But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:20, 24). You don’t have to be rich to inherit the Kingdom of God: “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?“ (James 2:5). But we can still show our faith by helping those in need: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17).

The key thing to remember when dealing with the poor is this: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). First and foremost, we as followers of Jesus are called to be His disciples, which means showing God’s love to others. Sometimes this may mean fulfilling their material needs, and other times this may mean helping them learn new skills to help themselves in life. The key is to be in relationship with Jesus so we know how to live out the love that He desires to show all people, whether rich or poor.

“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 through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

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