The Roots of Poverty

I was listening to the radio the other day, when I heard about a noble plan of some organization to eradicate poverty in the world by some certain year. A noble thought, to be sure.

However, if you look at the Scriptures, you’ll see that Jesus made this interesting comment:

“The poor you will have with you always” (Matthew 26:11).

I thought to myself, “It’s a noble thought to have a goal of eradicating poverty in the world. However, according to Jesus, it will never happen.” Jesus says it plainly here, “The poor you will have with you always.”

Now please don’t take any offense if you feel “poor” right now! However, what I am going to say is really a true statement when you consider the much larger picture (I’m not talking about one on one). On a large scale, because sin is present in the world, we have grave injustices. Food does not get properly distributed. For example, corrupt government officials may rob the poor and disadvantaged of their rights and their rightful possession (e.g. basic food) and so leave them in a very disastrous condition. Yes, the poor we will always have with us. In large part (or in most part) that is due to the presence of sin in our world.

In some cases, it is direct sin (we may have sinned and end up poor). In other cases, is it indirect sin (we may have been sinned against and end up poor). But in every case, God will help us if we call out to Him.

Now let’s get back to the plans of the noble-minded. By the way, thank God for noble-minded people. They do help out! People get fed and needs get met through many noble minded people. However, nobility alone is not the answer! One must have the mind of Christ! How would one go about eradicating poverty in the world?

Well, I like the approach of organizations like Compassion International, World Vision, Operation Blessing (operated by the 700 club), Life Outreach International (operated by James and Betty Robison), and the Leprosy Mission. And there are so many more organizations like these. Why do I like the approach of these organizations? Because it is biblical and it works. They not only feed the poor, and help to clothe them, and help to provide items such as sewing machines, farm implementations, and what not that enable people to make their own wages, they are also addressing the root of the problem. And the root a need for Jesus Christ and the healing that He alone can truly bring. To root goes very deep, right to need for a personal Lord and Savior who can forgive us of our sins and make us whole in body, mind, and spirit.

Now no one is blaming these people for their poverty. But sure, there are individual problems with money-management and personal responsibility that need to be addressed in everyone’s lives. But through organizations like these, the whole mindset of poverty is being addressed. The whole mindset of poverty is really a non-Christian one, where you are in bondage and there is no deliverer. The Bible, on the other hand, speaks of a glorious Deliverer whose name is Jesus. He came to set the captives free. This includes those who are poor and in bondage of various types.

The answer, on a large scale, to world poverty really is the gospel. The gospel empowers us to live lives free from bondage. It also empowers us to help others. Most of all, the gospel gives us a victorious means of dealing with the root cause of it all, which is sin. You see, without victory over the root cause – my sin and your sin and the world’s sin – there can be no real favor from a loving yet Holy God. And to get really free from the grip of poverty one desperately needs this favor.

You see, poverty, in the end, is not about how much money you have, but it’s about the spirit that controls you. Whether you have money or not is simply not the bottom line! Many great men and women of faith have done miracles in Jesus’s name with pretty much not even a dime to their name! Think of George Mueller who fed two thousand orphans a day on nothing! He had no economic plan, or business support to rely on! He simply prayed in the provision for two thousand needy orphans each and every day! And there were occasions when they sat down to eat, gave thanks, and still did not have any food on the table! But when they finished their prayers, a knock was heard at the door, and food had been brought!

I do not blame non-Christians for their desires to end world poverty. It’s a great idea, really. But according to the Bible, unless the root issue is dealt with, the problem will never go away. One must address the root in order to find a lasting solution.

May I encourage you to get involved helping the poor. When you do so, make sure your approach is biblical. If you decide to support an organization, make sure their approch is biblical as well. In this way, you will gain God’s favor to the greatest possible extent and help out in the most loving way possible – which is to not only feed people physically, but spiritually as well. Below are some website addresses that you can click on to find out more information. These are just a few that come to mind. There are many more.

God bless you as you get involved!

Compassion International

World Vision

Operation Blessing International

Life Outreach International

Leprosy Mission International