God’s Heart for the Poor
During tough economic times, the poor suffer more than others. While the wealthy go on unphased, those of middle, low, or virtually no income bear greater misery. As Derek Thompson wrote in his Atlantic article, “The pandemic now bulldozing through the United States will, in its own way, be especially punishing for low-income workers, just as they were starting to reverse a generation of widening inequality” ("The Coronavirus Will Be a Catastrophe for the Poor"). Truly, the poor are suffering greatly today.
Often we think of “the poor” as the homeless, the jobless, and the hopeless. However, J. D. Pleins says that in Scripture the poor were those who lacked “economic resources and material goods,” those who suffered from “political and legal powerlessness and oppression” (The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, Vol. 5., p. 402). The poor were not a social group or political party but represented “a diverse body of social actors: small farmers, day laborers, construction workers, beggars, debt slaves, village dwellers” (ibid.). They were what we call today the “working poor;” most had jobs, worked hard every day, but still couldn’t seem to muster the resources to “make ends meet.”
The Bible boldly proclaims God’s burden specifically for these people, those who lack resources or suffer oppression: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke. 6:20 [ESV]; cf. Matt. 5:3). God has chosen the poor in this world to be “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5 [ESV]). Because the poor where being plundered, God said he would arise and place them in the safety they longed for (Psalm 12:5 [ESV]). No interest was to be exacted from them, (Exodus 22:25-27), and God pronounced woes on those who turned the needy aside and robbed the poor, the widows, and the fatherless (Isaiah 10:1–2 [ESV]). Even the apostles were burdened to provide for the needs of believers suffering in communities of poverty due to famine and lack (Romans 15:25–27 [ESV]). The God of Scripture hears the cries of the poor, and calls his people to reflect his heart toward them with hospitality, generosity, and justice.
World Impact was formed 50 years ago as an acknowledgment of this teaching. Something so biblically clear should be taught, preached, and lived out in our churches, our families, and our lives. Remember, to be Christ’s disciple is to share his heart. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8.9, ESV). Tell me—do you share God’s heart today?