Summary: A topical message on the causes and Christian response to poverty.
A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO POVERTY
For the past several month, we have been bombarded by news of hurricanes, and flooding. We have seen pictures of the devastation left behind in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, and the damage left by the latest storm in Texas. We as a denomination, and as a nation have responded to the many heart-rending scenes we have seen of people left with nothing, of children separated from parents, of folks crying over lost loved ones.
Of the many pictures I’ve seen though, none strike me more than those of the people in New Orleans. Now, I know there were many people who suffered great losses and heart ache from the storms in other states and other areas. My heart goes out to them and hopefully, we will be able to send a team from our church in the upcoming weeks to help with the disaster relief in some of those areas.
No, it wasn’t so much the great destruction and the great loss that that will leave the most lasting impression in my mind; it was rather the crushing poverty of so many of the people. As I looked at those pictures and thought about them this past week, I asked myself, “How, in a country as great as this one, in a country with preschool programs like Head Start and free public education offered through grade 12; in a country where scholarships and student loans are available to most who desire to attend college, in a country that has spent more than 4 Trillion dollars on social programs in the past 30 years; how in the world can we continue to have pockets of such poverty? How can we have such poverty and how are Christians to respond to the poor?
As I thought about this, I remembered Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:11 when He said, “The poor you will have with you always.” But why? Why will there always be poor?
I believe there are several reasons why there will always be people who are poor.
WHY THERE IS POVERTY
1. Injustice causes poverty -
- Proverbs 13:23 The field of the poor yields abundant food, but without justice, it is swept away.
Sometimes, the actions; the immoral actions, of others causes poverty. There are those who have lost their businesses, or their homes, or their savings because of the actions of others. We are all aware of those in our society who prey on the weak, the kind and the trusting. Some people are led to poverty through phone solicitations, unscrupable salesmen, and e-mail scams. Others are led to poverty because of the lawsuits of people trying to get rich at the expense of others. There are many other examples, but, injustice causes some poverty.
2 Physical & Mental Problems cause poverty -
In Mark 5 we are told about a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. She came to Jesus to be healed. During those 12 years though, we are told,
- Mark 5:26 She ... had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all.
There are times, even when you have insurance, that a crippling disease can drain your finances and leave you in poverty. There was a man in Mississippi named Kenneth, I visited with in the hospital many times. Ken was in there because he needed a heart transplant. Ken had medical insurance. He had good medical insurance, but even that did not cover his 6-month stay in the hospital, the temporary heart pump they put him on while waiting for a transplant, the transplant, his loss of employment, and the drugs and medical follow up required after the surgery.
We have all seen the homeless in our communities, the people holding up signs saying “Will work for food,” and such. Many of those people one mental problem or another and are unable to meld into society. We remember the Gadarene Demoniac was an impoverished outcast as well.
Physical and mental problems cause poverty.
3. Sinful Living causes poverty
> Proverbs 23:21 ... the drunkard & the glutton will become poor,
There are many who are addicts, and drunkards, who have nothing and live on the streets. They only live for their next fix, or their next drink. Many of the prostitutes working in our area and across the country, work only to support their habits.
I know a man, so wrapped up in online pornography that he stole from the church where he was treasurer and was asked to leave. He was so wrapped up in that lifestyle that he stole from his employer to support his addiction and lost his job. He was so wrapped up in that lifestyle that he started running around on his wife. When he was caught he lost his family and his home.