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What the Bible says about Poverty: Galatians 6:9-10

Welcome to the last blog post in our series “What the Bible says about Poverty.” We’ve journeyed through several passages, some easy and some more challenging, but today I want to leave you with some words of encouragement.

(9) So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. (10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

Poverty is a very complex issue, yet our politics tend to oversimplify the root cause on one of two extreme ends of the spectrum: personal responsibility or unjust systems.  The reality is, it’s often both as well as the consequences of adversity like diseases or natural disasters. 

As there is no easy explanation of cause, there is also no simple solution. This is why working with someone experiencing material poverty can be so messy, exhausting, humbling and overwhelming, but it’s also mandated. People are broken. At some point when we work with someone in poverty, they may let us down and make mistakes, but so will we! Be encouraged, keep God in the middle, and keep working for the good of others.

Let‘s allow God’s word stir us to keep working our way through this complexity to help someone else, to think beyond just ourselves. Let’s care because God cares about the vulnerable and commands us to seek justice for those suffering and in poverty. In verse 10 we are told to care even more for those who belong to the same household of faith. We are each part of a biological family, and those ties run deep, but we also live among our adopted brothers and sisters in Christ, who we are all called to love and care for. 

In a culture of individualism and independence, it’s sometimes hard to feel like family with other Christians. Our current society looks quite different than the community of believers described in Acts 4:41-47, where believers were singing praises to God and breaking bread together, but let’s use it as an example and strive to have this type of love for our fellow believers.

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Psalm 9:9-10

Hello everyone! We’re nearing the end of our series on “What the Bible says about Poverty”. If you haven’t read the other posts in the series, make sure to catch up!

(9) The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. (10) Those who know Your Name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh. Psalm 9:9-10 Whether you’re the one experiencing poverty or the one walking alongside someone in poverty, keep God at the center of this present crisis. It’s no secret that God cares for and delivers the poor, that He is our strength when we have none (Isaiah 25:4, 1 Samuel 2:8, Psalm 102:17, Hebrews 13:6).

Even though we may know His power, it’s easy to get caught up in the present crisis and forget to take time to give our problems to God. I read some really great advice recently, if you’re feeling discouraged or unsure about where God is in your life, put your trust in God’s character. God’s character is true and we know that God has proved that He is faithful and doesn’t abandon those who trust and seek him. Looking back at all He’s done, there’s ample evidence that He rescues those who are oppressed. (Daniel 6:27, Isaiah 43:14-19).

Prayer, seeking God, laying down our burdens at His feet; these are all things that should be part of any solution to material poverty. We’ve never been told we will have it perfect and easy in this life; we live in a fallen world. This doesn’t mean He isn’t present during our trials and that we can’t call on His name to move the mountains in our life. Strive to keep God in the middle of your crisis, when life feels like a whirlwind, let God be your anchor.

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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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What the Bible says about Poverty: Deuteronomy 15:4-6

Good day! Today we’re on our third post in the series “What the Bible says about Poverty.” This post will look at a passage in Deuteronomy that tells us how God intended life to be.

(4) There will be no poor among you, however, because the Lord is certain to bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance – (5) if only you obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow every one of the commands I am giving you today. (6) When the Lord your God blesses you as he promised you, you will lend to many nations but not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you. Deuteronomy 15:4-6

Doesn’t this paint a beautiful picture? God brought His people out of their pain and suffering as slaves in Egypt and to this new promised land where they would be blessed beyond measure. This passage says there will be no poor, yet this doesn’t seem to be accurate. There are clearly people experiencing poverty now and throughout history. So, why is God saying His blessing will result in the abundance of blessing and the absence of poverty?

See that phrase snuck right in the middle of the passage? “If only you obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow every one of the commands I am giving you today.” God gives many instructions, that when followed, result in a beautiful, flourishing life. However, because of the fall and the brokenness of humans, we don’t follow all the commands God gave us. This is the reason we have poverty in our world. Humans, by our own means, are incapable of living up to God’s standards that would result in that picture of a thriving, bountiful community painted above.

Thankfully, God sent his holy and perfect son Jesus Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice for our shortcomings. Through our reconciliation with Christ, we can have a piece of this promised, flourishing life here and now (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). While we won’t experience full flourishing until the Kingdom comes, we have been mandated to care for the poor in the now. We can read the Bible and learn what God’s commands are. How does he tell us to treat the poor and what systems should we set up to prevent or overcome poverty?

Later in this series, we will read some of these commands — there are many more than ten! God gave us the blueprint for poverty alleviation; we just need to study and implement it.

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Jeremiah 22:16

Welcome! You’re joining in on the second in our blog series “What the Bible says about Poverty.” Last week we looked at Micah 6:8 and today we will explore a verse that shows how the message of Micah 6:8 played out practically in the way one Old Testament king ruled.

Let’s first look at the context around Jeremiah 22:16; for this you can read Jeremiah 22:13-17. In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah is rebuking King Jehoiakim (king of Judah from 608 to 598 B.C.) for living an overly luxurious life while treating his laborers unjustly and not paying them their due wages. Next, he reminds Jehoiakim of his father Josiah’s success because of his righteous actions, saying:

He took up the case of the poor and needy, then it went well. Is this not what it means to know me? This is the Lord’s declaration. Jeremiah 22:16.

God doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to his commands to care for the poor and vulnerable populations (Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 14:31; Jeremiah 22:3; James 1:27; 1 John 3:17-18).  Let the gravity of this phrase really sink in: “This is the Lord’s declaration.” There’s no suggestion, no if you feel like it, no when it’s convenient for you.  God tells us here: When you’re in relationship with Me and seeking to know My ways, you will fight for the poor and needy.

Like we discovered last week, when we walk humbly with God and are in relationship with Him, we discover His heart and are transformed to reflect Him. His heart is so big for the oppressed that He says, if you aren’t actively seeking justice for the poor and needy, then you don’t really know Me. That’s a hard declaration to take in.

Perhaps you’ve never realized how serious God is about protecting the poor against injustice. If so, this week I want to challenge you: click on the links to the verses and take some time to reflect on his commands and let his Word sink into your heart.

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Micah 6:8

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to read our first blog post! We at SERVE 6.8 hope you’ll find these posts helpful in discovering more about SERVE 6.8 and that they’ll cause you to reflect on how you engage with those experiencing poverty.

The mission of SERVE 6.8 is to unify, equip, and be an extension of the local church to serve the poor. The foundation of how we approach serving those in poverty is found in the Bible. That’s why for this first series we’ll be walking through my ten favorite verses on poverty. The first verse we’re going to explore is Micah 6:8 and I can’t think of a better place to start, given it’s one of the two founding verses of SERVE 6.8.

In Micah, we see a corrupt nation, a people concerned with their own wealth and disregard for the vulnerable. In Micah 6, God is reminding His people of His righteousness and all He’s saved them from to which they ask, aren’t our offerings and sacrifices good enough? The reply is this:

Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

“…to walk humbly with your God.” This sounds nice, but what does it mean? When we do something “with” someone, it means we’re in relationship with them. To do so humbly, means setting aside our selfish desires and pride. When we’re in relationship with God, setting aside our pride, and submitting to His authority and ways; His ways becomes our ways and His heart becomes our heart (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Only when we are humbly walking with God can we really understand that we can’t behave sinfully then make our offering and think he’ll be pleased. We are called to have His heart for the oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow (Isaiah 1:17). Not only are we to show love and mercy to the oppressed, but we are also to act justly; to actively be engaged in their lives and advocate for the cause of those who are vulnerable.

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