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PASSING THE BATON: THE BIBLE AND POVERTY

10 July 2018

“The poor you will always have with you…” Matthew 26.11

 

 

 

You don’t have to look far to see the effects of poverty in the UK. From hunger and isolation to family breakdown, people across the UK are suffering. So the big question is, how do we know that God even cares? Because he has told us in His Word and shown us in the person of His Son. Here are a select few verses from the Bible showing just some of the ways God has cared for the poor down through the centuries.

 “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19.9-10

When the Lord God was giving the law to his people, setting out how life would be in land they were to live in, He gave many rules about the care of the poor. The Israelites were not to charge interest to anyone in poverty, all debts were to be cancelled every 50 years (the year of jubilee), and in the verse we have picked out here, they were to leave the leftover harvest so that people who were poor and needy could collect it and so have food. You can read one of the effects of this law in the book of Ruth.

“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21.13

If anyone was in any doubt about how God judges people who fail to help the poor and needy, the Old Testament is full of dire warnings like this about the eternal implications of such behaviour. These warnings are picked up by Jesus in Matthew 25 in the parable of the sheep and goats.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4.18-19

 

Jesus himself was of course born in poverty, survived life as a child refugee and lived as an impoverished itinerant teacher with no means of support. As he began his ministry he quoted this passage from Isaiah 61, outlining the purpose of his earthly ministry.

“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” Galatians 2.10

God’s concern for the poor does not end there. In Galatians we see that the baton of care for the poor has been passed to the church: Paul and all the apostles considered it a key part of their ministry.

So how can we pick up the baton of care for the poor?

Our programme Beyond the Poverty Line asks just that. In collaboration with Christians Against Poverty, we look at the causes of poverty in the UK and how we can take part in tackling it.

Listen at 10.30am on Saturdays or find the series at our website.

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