Christian Living

How to Deal with Poverty

We Should Continue to Remember the Poor

The Bible talks about the poor and teaches how to deal with poverty. Poverty shows up 21 times in the Bible, most in the practical advice-giving book of Proverbs. The word poor appears much more often at 176 times.

Combined, these passages give us much insight in how to deal with poverty and those who are poor.

Here are some key verses to consider:

Jesus tells us to be generous to those who are poor (Luke 11:41). This is the only verse we need. Jesus says it. We should do it. And don’t just give a little, be generous about it.

In addition, Peter, James, and John encourage Paul to continue to remember the poor, which he had been eagerly doing all along (Galatians 2:9-11).

We should follow their advice and example in how to deal with poverty, both that which is around us and throughout the world.

Jesus, however, says that we will always have the poor among us (Mark 14:7). This means we’ll never eliminate poverty—as some people hope to do. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

We should do whatever we can to help those who go without. And as we do so, we should do so in love (1 Corinthians 13:3).

These all address the problem of poverty. It reacts to what already exists. But what if we could be proactive and help people avoid poverty in the first place?

Consider this excerpt from my book Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide:

Many have cited the following three steps to avoid poverty. The source is unclear but may have originated with Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution.

Young people can avoid poverty if they follow three essential rules for success:

1. Complete at least a high school education

2. Work full-time

3. Wait until age twenty-one to marry, and get married before having a baby

People who follow all three rules have a 98 percent chance of not living in poverty. Furthermore, they have a 72 percent chance of joining the middle class.

Many people criticize this claim, some citing all manner of hate-filled motivations or ignorance. Yet if we look at this list, we know in our hearts that it’s correct. It’s common sense.

We can also logically see how someone who ignores these three essentials places themselves on a path that will likely lead them to needing government assistance and living a life of poverty.

What can we do to encourage teenagers to embrace these three essential rules?

Beyond that, what can we do to help those who didn’t or couldn’t follow them and find themselves in need? I’m thinking especially of the teenage mom left to care for her children on her own.

These are big questions without clear answers, but a good place to start is to find an organization already addressing one of these areas and working with them to make a difference.

Peter DeHaan from Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide

Quite simply, one response in how to deal with poverty is to encourage young people to make wise decisions and not rush into adulthood.

To do this, we can encourage them to complete high school, find the full-time job, and wait until their 21 to get married and have children.

For each person we encourage to do this, we help them avoid poverty. This may be the best way in how we can deal with poverty.

And for those who find themselves impoverished, we should do what Jesus says and give generously.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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