Being poor is neutral. It does not make one better or worse intrinsically. In the mission field we handle matters concerning the poor. Some missionaries spend their whole mission life and focus on dealing with the body needs of the poor. Personally this watchman sees being persistently poor a spiritual as well as a physical and soul condition. Oppressions come in when a Christian is not spiritually aligned with God’s words.
Let us read some verses as led by the Lord’s Spirit to understand this matter and how God sees the poor and being poor. Pray that we receive the Spirit of wisdom and Spirit of revelation to really know God.
God speaks through Bible Verses from the Old Testament:
From the beginning when God gave His principles and laws to Moses, He specified very clear social justice, economic, financial management, administrative rules, moral standards and measures to apply in practical daily lives. He also sets clear requirement and standards for a court of civic law and legal justice that should be fairly and equally applied to poor and rich, without favor. Jesus has further set a spiritual standard to apply to Christians (brothers and sisters in Christ) just as among the Jews (Jewish brethren) as well. The apostle Paul has taught on how this standard is to be applied in the church between Christians.
God’s standard is important because when the enemy (evil) comes in like a flood, the Holy Spirit lifts up the standard of God against him.
Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; They shall bring your sons in their arms, And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
(Watchman’s notes: The enemy comes in like a flood. This is a condition that happens. The word of God states that a believer of Jesus can always lift up the banner of God’s standard to resist and overcome the enemy. In a poor land, a usual condition that diverts attention from God is physical poverty and the resultant heavy indebtedness. In practice, improperly managed micro-finance has become the problem itself instead of being a way out for the poor).
The Old Testament’s teaching on the matter of being poor:
And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.
“In a lawsuit, you must not deny justice to the poor.
But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.
When this offering is given to the Lord to purify your lives, making you right with him, the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less.
“Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
[ Redemption of the Poor and Enslaved ] “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you.
“There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession.
“But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them.
Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.
If your neighbor is poor and gives you his cloak as security for a loan, do not keep the cloak overnight.
“Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns.
You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.
God speaks through Bible Verses from the New Testament on the matter of being poor:
[The Beatitudes ] “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.
You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.
Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.
For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Luke 14:12-14 2 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
John 12:5-7 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (note: the aforementioned statement was spoken by Judas the disciple who later betrayed Jesus) 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.
(Cornelius) He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.
He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God!
Romans 15:25-27 5 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers[a] there. 26 For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia[b] have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially.
1 Corinthians 13:3
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.
2 Corinthians 6:10
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
2 Corinthians 8:2
They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:9
You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
2 Corinthians 9:9
As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?
But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
Finally, a word of warning to those who consider themselves rich in the worldly goods and possessions but not rich in the matters of God:
Revelation 3:16-18 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
Luke 12:21 (EXB) | In Context
21 “This is how it will be for those who store up ·things [wealth; treasure] for themselves and are not rich ·toward [or in what matters to; or in their relationship with] God.”