Poverty is not God’s will, and in fact is a bondage and curse (Deut 28:47,48; Prov 11:24). Poverty is the opposite to the blessing of abundance, with insufficiency in the lives of God’s children doing little to glorify Him as our provider (Prov 10:22; Phil 4:19).
Within the 60 poorest nations live 60% of the Muslim population, while 75% of the world’s refugees come from Muslim nations. It is estimated 2 billion people suffer poverty and hardship and every day around 35,000 children die because of poverty.
Those disadvantaged in any way are not to be exploited rather their plight is to be attended to (Prov 22:22,23, 31:8,9). Following Christ's example, we are to look to the needs of the poor, assisting where we can (Lk 4:18,19; Jas 1:27). Though we might be stretched financially, we can still minister to others in some way (2 Cor 8:1-5).
Wisdom is required so the help given to those in need, wherever possible, enables them to rise up and help themselves and not be continually dependent upon others, for this is the difference between a hand up and a handout. By giving a man a fish it will feed him for a day, but teaching him to fish will feed him for a lifetime. Consider how this condition has come about – by not following sound financial practices and using money wisely, spending more than can be afforded, not being disciplined in the use of credit cards or not resisting pressured advertising in today’s consumer orientated society, and in the case of a Christian, not tithing? (Mal 3:8-11). Also ask ‘What are their work habits like’? (Prov 10:4, 14:23).
Numerous missionary initiatives teach sound, sustainable farming and fishing principles, or help establish cottage industries of sewing and other saleable crafts to alleviate financial hardship. Any ministry we do for those in need should be done without drawing attention to it (Mt 6:1-4).
Illiteracy and poverty often go hand in hand. However, the poor who have little are often happier than the rich because it is easier for them to have an attitude of dependency on God, respond to the gospel more readily and give generously (Lk 7:22, 21:1-4; 2 Cor 8:2; Jas 2:5). It is better to be in poverty and be righteous than wicked and wealthy (Ps 37:16,17; Lk 16:19-28).
We are rich because Jesus entered into our poverty
ongoing help (Ps 40:17, 86:1). Jesus was reliant on heavenly help too, stating, “I can of my own self do nothing” (Jn 5:30).
God has created the rich and poor alike (Prov 22:2). Both poverty and riches can be dangerous traps, one causing a person to steal to survive, the other creating a self-sufficient attitude with no need for God (Prov 30:7-9).