“I will praise Him from the bottom of
“Lord, who can compare with you?
Who else rescues the weak and
helpless from the strong?
Who else protects the poor and
needy from those who want to
Pslam 35:10 NLT
One of the greatest clues to whether we will care about the needy and oppressed comes from our worldview. A worldview is a culture, a set of beliefs about life and morality. In the Unites States, extreme suffering doesn’t fit that well into our worldview, which is one of the top reasons we don’t confront the plight of the poor and suffering. Our theology and our reality can’t make sense of it.
But, this changes if we believe that it is our moral responsibility to care for the poor. In the United States (as well as other Western Countries) these morals can quickly be pushed aside with the cultural belief that every individual has the right and equal ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even if they start at a much lower social level (like, from the Projects) than say, someone who is the son of a politician. Many of the heroes that are profiled in our media and stories are those who have successfully gone from the bottom to the top. They are the American hero.
The problem with this is that although we should value these individuals’ achievements, it is a false assumption that everyone has an equal opportunity to move up the ladder, let alone jump to the top. It is like we expect that if the poor work hard enough with what they have, they can essentially win the lottery of life, or be the star of their own reality TV show.
Yes, people shouldn’t be lazy and people can work their butts off, improving their lives. But, when there are a lot of things working against people, essentially not providing opportunities to improve one’s situation, one can work forever to barely survive and still never make it.
When you start studying scripture, it becomes obvious that God actually is both aware of that these people exist and He cares about them. Believe it or not, He doesn’t just expect them to do all the work and pull themselves up by their boot-straps! But so often we expect that of the poor!
I am not saying that God doesn’t think the poor and oppressed should work- of course they shouldn’t be lazy! In fact, micro-loans, something that is just recently being used in the last couple decades to solve poverty- was mentioned way back in a book of the Bible, Deuteronomy- as a way to do something to help the poor. The whole idea behind giving people loans is to give them the means to make a living. Or He had people leave grains in the fields just so the poor could go out and do the work to glean the grain.
God directed His people to both take care of the poor by giving them help (relief work) and to give them opportunities (development work).
What I like about the God I worship and follow is that He is incomparable. Because really, who else is like this God? Who else really cares for and loves the poor? The average American? Me? Who else can give justice to those who are taken advantage of?
And I- we- have the privilege of being His hands and feet on earth.
We are His solution.
What is your worldview towards the poor? Do you need to recalibrate your view to be more like God’s view?
Ideas for Action:
Do a $25 microloan with an organization like Kiva to give the poor opportunities to move out of poverty.
Look up five verses in the Bible about the poor. What do these verses teach you about God?
Challenge your own view on poverty. Spend 3 minutes playing the game Survive125 and see if you would live if you lived in extreme poverty.