A basic understanding of poverty

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A basic understanding of poverty     

Proverbs 10:15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

Extra Reading: Proverbs 10:1-17

To be poor means something is lacking from our life. Often we want to correct what is lacking. The Bible raises two kinds of poverty-people who are in need of basic necessities like food and clothing and people who are in need of God because they lack the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives. We are called-commanded-to help both of these kinds of people as much as we possibly can.  I may be tempted to say “doesn’t God care that I’m poor? I feel so lonely when I realize how so many people seem to have all they need and I’m struggling.” Well, there is an answer to that kind of question from Isaiah 25:4 that states, “But to the poor, O Lord, you are a refuge from the storm…a shelter from the rain and the heat.” God is able to provide for our daily needs adequately. God’s Word says, “Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you” Hebrews 13:5.

The challenge of poverty must be faced head-on. The first response to human suffering or poverty is the emergency “deal with the symptoms mentality”. Huge amounts of food and other supplies are poured into a disaster-stricken area, and those giving believe this Band-Aid approach will, temporarily, deal with the problem. We must not minimize the importance of this approach to dealing with the plight of the poor. It is positively supported by many scriptural exhortations (Proverbs 19:7; Matthew 25:37-40). But we must be careful we do not allow this to become a permanent way of counteracting the problem. Philanthropy, works of mercy and charity have their important place, but if we do not ask why the poor are poor, we might, in the long run, further contribute to the problem. Charity should not be allowed to hinder a long-term solution to the problem of poverty anywhere around the world. It also may cause a chronic dependency on foreign aid that will not be easily broken. But what is God saying about indulgency that cultivates a lifestyle of inflated wants and conspicuous consumption? We also need to pay attention to the words of Jesus Christ written in Luke 4:18-19. They are sobering indeed!

Prayer:  O Lord, help us not to ignore the poor in our communities. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Samuel N. Modise                        

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