EXTREME POVERTY

AN AMAZING FACT: Many of the poorest people on earth “survive” on less than $1 per day.

It’s a heartrending fact that more than a billion people in the world live in what is defined as “extreme poverty,” lacking such basic human needs as food, safe drinking water, shelter, and sanitation. Education and medical care is out of the question for most of them. (And we whine when our electricity goes off for a couple of hours!) Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us, and His Word tells us that feeding and caring for them is our responsibility. Sharing with others is part of God’s plan for us. “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).

“He who hides his eyes,” as if not looking at the problem will make it go away, is doing wrong. It reminds me of the comment by Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Some people are tempted to think they can turn a blind eye and everything will be okay, or that they can leave the problem to others, but Scripture tells us it’s our obligation to help.

The apostle John wrote, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). A person with God’s love inside cannot turn away from the desperate need of a fellow human being. Instead, “the righteous considers the cause of the poor” (Proverbs 29:7). And then he takes action!

It might seem that no matter how much we give, there are more people in need. And that’s true. But it doesn’t excuse us from doing what we can to help. We should help and keep helping. God promises a blessing to those who remember to care for the less fortunate. He says, “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble” (Psalm 41:1). Even the poor are blessed by giving to others. Remember the widow who put her two mites into the temple offering, or the widow in Zarephath who gave what would have been the last of her food to the prophet Elijah?

And don’t forget Jesus’ words that when we give to “the least of these”—food, water, clothing, shelter, caring—we are giving to Him.

Additional Reading: Proverbs 28:15–28

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. Proverbs 28:27 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people. The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days. A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him. Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough. A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress. He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him. He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer. He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase. Proverbs 28:15-28 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16

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