The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. – Proverbs 29:7 (NIV)
Poverty is certainly a growing issue of debate and concern today. Unemployment rates, foreclosure listings and protests have been media regulars for the last few years. A sour economy has soured our attitude toward the rich, but the real question is how has it changed our attitude toward the poor?
More and more, the burden of the poor seems to be pushed onto the government, but it is clear in the passage that this is the responsibility of the righteous. Unfortunately, we have grown used to the system taking care of those in need. We assume that there is a program or benefit available to fix people’s problems, but systems have no compassion or hope or healing. Systems are not driven by love or fueled by faith. Systems don’t save people, they just solve problems. Righteousness can do better.
It is the righteous who want to provide more than gold or silver can buy. As much as the poor may need financial help, they need love, compassion and encouragement in equal or greater measure. In fact, poverty is less a battle over finances and more over the attitude and inclination of the heart. This is true for both the experience of poverty and the perception of the poor. When define ourselves or others by what we lack, it can lead to all sorts of injustice. To truly see justice for the poor we need to preach the truth and live the truth.
Paul had learned the secret of contentment regardless of his circumstances. This is the most just way to approach poverty and wealth. When we learn how to be content, we are released to be gracious and giving to others and not be concerned for ourselves. This is how we can act justly. This is how we can overcome the spirit of poverty in ourselves and others. This is how we can continue to minister to the needs of others even if we are not what others would call wealthy.
Lord, help us to care for the needs of others and give with a generous spirit. May we overcome poverty in our hearts and minds so that it does not define us or the world around us. Help us to live justly with our finances. Amen.
8 responses to “The Right Kind of Righteousness: Overcoming Poverty”
there are those who are wealthy but are poor and lost
there are those who are poor but are wealthy and saved
a person may have lots of money, but the family is killing
each other to inherit the fortune
– I see unbelievers in this condition
a person may be poor, making money enough for the day’s food,
but is a believer and is saved
– sadly, I see Pastors who are in this condition
“Our beloved, I pray for you that you will prosper in all things
and be well (good health), just as your soul prospers.”
– 3 John 1:2
good success is where one’s soul is prospered.
one who is established in righteousness,
and who knows himself to be God’s beloved.
Will God give poverty to His children?
Will God give sickness to His children?
God’s wants our soul prospered, all things and health comes after.
grace and peace
The world certainly has an upside down view of what is valuable. Righteousness realigns our perspective to see things in God’s economy.
This really ministered to me Chris and helped me. One of those just what I needed posts. 🙂 It is wonderful to see Him work this out in our lives.
God bless you and yours, lives rich with Him!
Thanks Debbie. Today’s sermon at my church, Risen King, really hit on this point as well.
This was a great reminder, Chris! The poor are the responsibility of the righteous – that is quite easy to forget and to think that we have enough government agencies shelling out the dough to help the poor, so why do more? Do you think this help should come from individuals or a more concerted effort from churches (as partly funded through tithes?).
Thanks for the thoughts!
I think it is about loving your neighbor whether that is corporately or individually. I think this also ties in to Jesus saying to some “I never knew you” because they had not met the needs of others. Thanks for the comment. I would love to see discussions on this issue happen at churches. If anyone is going to pull the US out of financial chaos, it should be the body of Christ.
the “programs” out there serve who the government wants to brag about helping, righteousness does not boast or brag, it sees need and it reaches out. My family and I were homeless for a long time and the govenment refused to help, (long story). I would agree, not many think of the scripture you’ve posted and our calling to help the poor. Your post nailed it as to why. Good job, great post! May God keep blessing you as you pour out for others. -watw
Thanks. It is hard to convince people that dependency on the government becomes a sort of disease that is hard to recover from. Freedom from poverty is not just getting stuff, it is being rid of the need for stuff. Too many programs create a dependency on more stuff, but stuff doesn’t cure poverty, God’s grace and love do.