<<unfortunate, impoverished>>

God is particularly concerned about the poor who are socially disadvantaged and struggle financially, being powerless and unable to help themselves (Deut 24:14; Prov 23:10; Jas 1:27). Caring for those in need is an opportunity to minister to/for Jesus, whose rebuke is “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:42-45). Giving to the poor results in lasting treasure in heaven because it is, in fact, honouring God as all mankind are made in His image, and some are disadvantaged through circumstances often beyond their control (Ps 41:1-3; Prov 14:21,31, 19:17, 22:9; Mt 6:19,20; Mk 10:21). If a person doesn’t respond to the cry of the poor their request in a time of need will also be ignored, yet if you satisfy the needs of the hungry and oppressed God will respond positively to your requests and bless you (Prov 21:13; Isa 58:9-11).

We are to be open handed to the needy, doing for them what they would do for us if the roles were reversed (Deut 15:7,8,11; Lk 6:31). The Bible challenges us to remember to help the poor, the disadvantaged and those affected by adverse circumstances, asking “If

What is my attitude to the poor?

anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (Lev 19:9,10; Rom 12:13; Gal 2:10; 1 Jn 3:17). Rather than doing kind deeds to those who are financially or socially able to return the gesture, show kindness (either anonymously or without drawing attention) to those who cannot repay you (Mt 6:1-4; Lk 14:12-14,17:10). Giving and receiving is practical Christianity (Act 4:32-35; Jas 2:15,16). In God’s eyes, a person’s value is not dependent on their wealth or social standing.

“Better is a poor person whose walk is blameless than a rich person whose ways are perverse” (Prov 28:6). Jesus illustrated this, speaking of the poor widow who although only giving a small gift, was in fact making a sacrificial offering – what she needed to live on – while the rich people only gave out of their surplus (Lk 21:3).

The poor are often rich in faith, and readily acknowledge their need of salvation because they recognise their powerlessness by not having affluence in which to put their confidence (Jas 2:5,6).

When Jesus preached to the poor they were receptive, as they had nothing else to hope in for they were not self-reliant upon things. He also said blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble ones who don’t rely on their ability and resources for spiritual life), for they will experience the Kingdom of God’s provision (Mt 5:3; Lk 4:18). He, himself, was the prime example, ‘though He was rich, yet for our benefit became poor’ [so] that through His death we might enter into His heavenly riches (2 Cor 8:9). Jesus said we will be blessed if we live by the same principles as He did (Jn 13:17).

We need to have a realistic perspective – “Society will always have its poor people” must be balanced by ‘except for the grace of God there go I’, the golden rule of "doing to others as we would like done to us" and as

No single solution covers all situations

appropriate endeavour to do our bit to show the love of God in a practical way (Mt 26:11; Lk 6:31). Those of us with an abundance of this world’s goods should be sharing with those who don’t have; helping them to become self-sufficient through budgeting, home skills and creative, wise utilization of what they do have. We should ‘live simply so others can simply live’. We need wisdom in ministering to the poor – is it mismanagement of resources or something beyond their control? Rather than handouts give them a hand up so they can become self-sufficient.

Ultimate poverty is gaining the whole world but losing one’s soul in hell (Mt 16:26). Many Christians are deluded by the world’s success standards, whereas in God’s sight they are paupers (Rev 3:17).

See also: benevolence, budgeting, compassion, disadvantaged, golden rule, handout/hand-up, needy, poverty, welfare.