On The Record
Registered Sex Offenders for Edgefield
PO Box 972
Dr. Skip Myers
State and Federal
Local Political Parties
Chamber of Commerce
The Jail Report
New York Times
New York Post
Los Angeles Times
past articles please visit our Archives
God's Money and You Part 9: Poverty
By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted October 11, 2012
RELIGION – We have election coming up and
the economy is one of the chief issues. Each party has a different view
on how best to ignite the economy and help the poor of our nation. Now
I am not very political anymore, I am not saying that we should not be
well informed on the issues or that we should not vote, but that
sometimes we can place too much hope in an elected official and forget
that our ultimate hope lies in Christ. But aside from that, the
question of how to best care for the poor is an important question. One
that Christians cannot ignore.
I am a white middle class Baptist pastor (if you thought you were
reading an Aboriginal Unitarian then you are bummed out). I give this
information to say that “my view” is colored by my background. Yours is
as well. But if you profess to be a Christian, it does not matter your
background or your views. The question becomes, what does the Bible say
about the issue?
We begin with a fundamental biblical assertion. Caring for the poor and
the helpless is so basic to the Christian faith that those who don’t do
it are not considered Christians at all. Jesus tells a story about the
“sheep” and the “goats” in Matthew 25:32-46. This account of Jesus
makes this issue clear. You need to read it if you think we can just
ignore the poor and do nothing.
Jesus is making an account of the final judgment. The sin held against
the “goats” is not that they did anything wrong to those in need but
that they failed to do anything for them at all. Theirs is a sin
of omission. This means that we cannot wash our hands of
responsibility to the poor by saying, “I’m not doing anything to hurt
them.” Or dismissing their need by saying “they just ought to get
a job.” We must be seeking to do something for them.
Randy Alcorn says that we should ask, “If Christ were on the other side
of the street, or the city, or even the world, and he were hungry,
thirsty, helpless, or imprisoned for his faith, would we help him?”
John Wesley wrote, “Put yourself in the place of every poor man and
deal with him as you would have God deal with you.” This is a challenge
As we look at helping the poor, the help needed will depend on why they
are poor. First, the family unit has the first function to care for
their own poor and needy. Paul explained this to Timothy: “Take care of
any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children
or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at
home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something
that pleases God” (1 Timothy 5:3-4). This was the norm prior to
and through the Great Depression. Sadly, in most cases, this is no
longer done or the effects of generational sin have lead to whole
family’s inability to care for themselves. The role of the government
has overtaken the responsibility of the family.
Second, some people may be poor because their homes and businesses have
been wiped out in a flood or natural disaster. In this case the
solution may be to give them money, materials, and assistance to
rebuild their homes and reestablish their businesses.
Third, they could be poor because of insufficient natural resources or
adverse climate (especially true in other nations). If this is the
situation then we could share the knowledge, skills, and technology
necessary to help them make the best of their situation.
Fourth and this is the case for many, a person may be poor because of
self-indulgence. I would call this middle class poverty. “Those who
love pleasure become poor” (Proverbs 21:17). Many today are materially
wealthy, but financially poor. They have lots of toys, but can’t pay
bills. This person needs to liquidate their assets to feed his family,
and then learn to live within his means and not throw away his income.
Fifth, some poverty is due to laziness. Solomon addresses this in
Proverbs 24:30-34 “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard
of a man lacking sense, (31) and behold, it was all
overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its
stone wall was broken down. (32) Then I saw and considered
it; I looked and received instruction. (33) A little sleep,
a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
(34) and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like
an armed man.” The lazy man is poor by choice. People who could
work but chose not to work do not need financial support; they need
incentives to no longer be lazy, but to work.
Acts of well-meaning provision can remove their incentive to be
responsible for themselves. Paul explained this in no uncertain
terms to the church in Thessalonica: “Even while we were with you, we
gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to
eat.’ Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing
to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such
people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle
down and work to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
These incentives could be providing job skills and education that
prepare them for the workforce. It could be governmental employment
doing any task that would provide them income and serve others. This
idea comes from the Old Testament practice of gleaning. This was
God’s way of helping to provide for the poor of the land (Leviticus
19:9-10). The corners of the fields were left uncut so the poor
could have food. But the grain was not cut, bundled, processed,
ground, bagged, transported, and delivered to the poor. The poor did
the work themselves—and thereby were neither robbed of their dignity
nor made irresponsible by a system requiring no work.(Randy Alcorn,
On the other hand, there are many who are poor and desiring to work,
but cannot find employment in our economy. This is why, as
voters, we must look and see which party promotes the creation of jobs.
1 Corinthains 10:31 implores people that in “whether you eat or drink
or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We need policies that
allow men and women to create companies that in turn create employment
for other men and women. We serve a God who creates and creating jobs
and wealth for others glorifies Him greatly.
We need policies that deal with root causes of poverty and do not just
thrown money at the issues and thereby remove incentives for people to
strive to productive employment. Throwing money at problems can feel
good for those who do so, but Paul says, “If I gave everything I have
to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if
I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” (1 Corinthians
13:3). So if doing nothing at all for the poor does not honor God and
blindly giving does not honor God, then our solution to poverty comes
by being men and women of God who are concerned about others and what
they truly need. It is a complex issue. I don’t pretend to have
solved it or exhausted it from a Biblical perspective, but to give you
some principals and ideals to help you frame a Christian perspective on
the issues of wealth and poverty.
© Copyright 2012 All material is property of
EdgefieldDaily.com and/or parent company ECL and
cannot be reproduced,
redistributed without expressed written permission.
We still need recipes for Cooking Section
WEBNEWS – Send in your favorite or
favorites. There is no limit to the number of recipes you can send in.
Help create an exchange of local favorites, home cooking,
grilling, sauces, and deserts! Send in your submissions here.