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What the Bible says about Poverty: 1 Timothy 5:16

Hello everyone! Today, we’re going to seek wisdom from Chapter 5 in Timothy, specifically verse 16.

If a believing woman has widows in her family, she should help them, and the church should not be burdened, so that it can help those who are genuinely widows. 1 Timothy 5:16

We often spend time talking and debating about what the government is doing in taking care of the poor. We may debate over what type of programs they are funding, what policies they are trying to pass, which programs are getting budget cuts, the list goes on! What if we spent time instead discussing our role in poverty alleviation?

As stated in the second half of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:39) — “Love your neighbor as yourself” — we are called to serve those closest to us, not to rely solely on outsiders. We each have the responsibility to care for family and friends directly connected to us before sending them to the Church or a social service agency. Paul is telling us, in this passage of Timothy, that Church assistance should be reserved for those with no family. This still rings true today.

Think about if or when you’ve been in a situation where you needed financial help. Who did you go to for assistance? Many of us have friends or family to ask and they will gladly help us out! However, many people in poverty, experience broken relationships; sometimes they don’t have any relationships to turn to.

First, we, as Christ-followers want to help people mend broken relationships to increase social support and have a safety net in place when they experience a crisis. Paul felt so strongly about this concept that he even states in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Second, the Church should care for people who don’t have any relationships to draw on in crisis. If we, as individuals, fulfill our personal responsibility, the Church can use its resources for those who don’t have a relational safety net.

It’s easy to feel that we’ve done our part by paying taxes or donating to an organization serving the poor, but we can’t forget about our individual responsibility. Let’s get involved if someone we know is struggling. We may not have all the answers and we may need to draw on the larger resource of the Church or other social service agencies, but let’s continue to walk alongside those in our lives that we know are struggling.

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What the Bible Says about Poverty: 2 Thessalonians 3:8-10

Hello every one! Today we’re jumping into our seventh post of ten exploring what the Bible tells us about poverty. Make sure to catch up on the other posts in this series, if you haven’t read them yet.

This post today will take a slightly different look at poverty than  previous verses we’ve delved into. This passage will instead speak to our personal responsibility to work.

(8) We did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and struggled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. (9) It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves and example to you so that you would imitate us. (10) In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:8-10.

Since God created the world, we’ve been commanded to workThe LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). God intended for us to work and be stewards of the world he created, while doing it all to glorify Him (Colossians 3:17, Colossians 3:22-24, 1 Corinthians 10:31).

When we carry out our individual responsibility to work, we feel fulfilled because we are living how God intended and completing His purpose for us. In 1 Corinthians 12 we see how everyone has been given unique gifts and skills to make the body of Christ work. God intended for us to use these gifts to glorify Him and fulfill his purposes.

Not only do we sense our inherent dignity and purpose when we fulfill the cultural mandate, but we are likely able to earn income to support our family and contribute to the larger economy. If we have jobs, we are more likely to have family-sustaining income and thus decrease our chances of living in poverty. While material poverty is complex with many contributing factors, we cannot expect anyone to come out of poverty without working.

In fact, if we don’t fulfill our call to work, we won’t experience a true sense of fulfillment or worth because we would be disobeying what God has commanded us to do. Paul continued his letter with this encouragement though, Brothers, do not weary of doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13). 

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Leviticus 19:9-10

Hello everyone, we’re here in the sixth post of a series called “What the Bible says about Poverty.” Today we’re diving into the book of Leviticus and the practice of “gleaning.”

(9) When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. (10) You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God. Leviticus 19:9-10

The practice of gleaning was God’s commandment for his people to make sure the poor were being provided for. Gleaning is also instructed in Deuteronomy 24:19-21 which specifies that this practice is to benefit the widow, orphan, and foreigner; or those who had no land allotted to them and no means to provide for themselves. An example of gleaning is in the Book of Ruth where Ruth goes to the property of Boaz to glean the edges of his wheat field (Ruth 2).

In chapter 2 of Ruth we read this: So Ruth gathered grain in the field until evening (2:17(a)). Those who benefited from gleaning also had a role to play in this process, they were expected to go to the field to gather the leftover grain. God doesn’t command the wealthy to take anything fallen or left behind directly to the poor, those in poverty are expected to go to the field or vineyard and gather up the remaining food. If the poor wanted to benefit from what was left behind, they had to actively go and gather the grain or grapes.

We can be prone to the myth that because someone doesn’t have an abundance of material wealth, that they don’t have any assets and thus cannot be a part of the solution to their material poverty. The truth is, someone may be materially poor, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any skills, knowledge, or resources. If we don’t seek their participation, then we slowly chip away at their dignity and worth by not acknowledging the resources God has given them.

All of 1 Corinthians 12 addresses the diversity of spiritual gifts God has given His people and how we’re all different parts of the same body, working together – But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Nor again the head to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, all the more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. (1 Corinthians 12:18-22, emphasis added). 

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Proverbs 14:31

Hello everyone! Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to join us in discovering what’s God word says about poverty. This is our fifth post in a series of ten. Make sure to catch up on our previous posts if you missed them.

Today let’s look at Proverbs 14:31:

The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors him. Proverbs 14:31

It’s odd isn’t it? We have this huge God, so powerful and holy that we’re called to fear Him. It seems He’d relate to those who are powerful on earth, yet he doesn’t. God sends his son Jesus down to earth not as a worldly King, but as a baby whose parents place him in a lowly feeding trough in the barn where they’re spending the night. Born not to royalty, but to simple ordinary people… from a line of broken and unlikely people who were used for great purposes by God.

Our God isn’t a God of perfect people. He’s a God of the hurt, disenfranchised, sinners, broken, and those who aren’t rich in this world. How often do we think about the fact that God not only made all people in his image, but that he identifies with the poor?

We see this played out again in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus is teaching on who will be inheritors of the Kingdom. At a pivotal moment in this story, when people are questioning when they ever fed Jesus when He was hungry or gave Him something to drink when He was thirsty, Jesus says this, “I assure you: whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

God, the highest of the most high, sent his beloved Son down to earth to live among a sinful world as a lowly baby and to minister to broken people. As imitators of Christ, let’s live by His example. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Deuteronomy 15:10-11

Hello! Thanks for stopping by to read today’s post. This is the fourth post in the series called “What the Bible says about Poverty.” Make sure to take time to read previous posts from the series, if you missed them. Today, we’ll look at the passage in Deuteronomy that follows last weekscripture reference.

The passage begins by warning people not to be hard-hearted and less generous to their brothers in poverty as the seventh year approached, the year when debts were cancelled, because the Lord would find them guilty (Deuteronomy 15:7-9)The passage ends like this:

(10) Give to him, and don’t have a stingy heart when you give, and because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. (11) For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, “You must willingly open your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:10-11.

This passage again emphasizes, that God is concerned about our hearts and attitudes when it comes to caring for the poor. It’s not enough to grudgingly give out of obligation or only when it’s convenient or easy. First, our heart for the oppressed grows because we understand how God views the poor. Second, we go out of our way to stand up for those treated unjustly rather than doing the bare minimum in  order to look like we’re doing a good thing. We give generously and willingly. 

Generosity will look different for everyone because we all have different capacities, skills, and gifts. Like the widow who gave her two coins (Luke 21:1-4), God isn’t interested in the biggest amount. He’s interested in the biggest heart; a heart interested in pursuing him and reflecting His goodness.

It’s hard to part with anything you feel you’ve earned, to spend yourself, to give sacrificially. However, God gave each of us blessings and gifts to be used to glorify Him and serve others (1 Peter 4:10-11). When you give, you’re showing God’s goodness and through you others  “will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-14)

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