Material poverty is a complicated reality, with many causes and perhaps just as many proposed solutions. With this in mind, understanding poverty isn’t always easy and requires a comprehensive approach.
According to the World Bank, 574 million people—nearly seven percent of the world’s population—will still be living on less than $2.15 a day in 2030.
What the Bible says about poverty
Men and women living in material poverty face many challenges: lack of basic resources like food, shelter, and money; corrupt social systems; poor education; and limited access to health care.
But those who haven’t experienced poverty often overlook one of its most profound impacts: hopelessness and shame. Material poverty can compound the brokenness that exists in our relationships with each other, with God, with ourselves, and with the rest of creation. Material poverty says to those in its grasp: You are not worthy.
Perhaps that is why God seems to show a special concern for those living in material poverty. The Scriptures include over 2,000 verses addressing poverty. For instance, many express God’s tenderness for this group and His anger toward their oppressors. When we view poverty as a departure from God’s plan for humanity, a result of brokenness in this world, we can understand God’s special concern not as a form of favoritism but as the beginning of a process of restoration and renewal.
The raw truth, however, is that poverty has no place in God’s Kingdom. In Isaiah 61, the prophet Isaiah proclaims that God has anointed him to “proclaim good news to the poor” (Isaiah 61:1, emphasis added). The Lord will trade their ashes of mourning for crowns of beauty, replace their sorrow with gladness, and trade cloaks of despair for garments of praise (verse 3).
In Psalm 113:7-8 we see that “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” and Proverbs 19:17 states “whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.”
How to care for people in poverty
There is no mistaking this: God cares deeply and passionately for men, women, and children living in material poverty. His words and actions make it clear. And as Christ’s ambassadors on this earth, we are to mirror our Father’s heart, loving our brothers and sisters in poverty with the same fervor.
In your everyday life, where do you interact with those living in material poverty?