Home > Get Involved > Advocate for Children > What Does The Bible Say About The Poor

What Does the Bible Say About Poverty?

We love the way Jesus showed us how to care for the poor and oppressed, how to listen to children, and how to look out for widows and orphans. He is always looking out for the most vulnerable.

See what the Bible has to say about poverty, and learn about God’s heart for children and families in need.

 

Yennifer, age 6, sits in front of her house holding her family Bible. Latin America.

God’s heart for those in poverty

Deuteronomy 26:6-9 (NIV)

“But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey”

 

Job 34:17-19 (NIV)

“Can he who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One? Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’ who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?”

 

Psalm 12:5 (NIV)

“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”

 

Isaiah 25:4a (NIV)

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

 

Isaiah 41:17 (NIV)

“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”

 

Luke 4:16-19 (NIV)

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

‘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 favor.’”

 

Luke 6:20-21 (NIV)

“Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.’”

Luke 7:22 (NIV)

“So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’”

James 2:5 (NIV)

“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

God’s instructions to care for the poor

Leviticus 19:9-10 (NIV)

“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.”

 

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

 

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NIV)

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

 

Matthew 5:42 (NIV)

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

 

Luke 3:11 (NIV)

“John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’”

 

Luke 12:33-34 (NIV)

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Blessings for those who serve the poor

Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV)

“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

 

Psalm 41:1 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.”

 

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

 

Proverbs 22:9 (NIV)

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

 

Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

 

Luke 14:13-14 (NIV)

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’”

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (NIV)

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’”

 

Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Biblical attitudes toward the poor

Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV)

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

 

Acts 2:44 (NIV)

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

 

Galatians 2:9-10 (NIV)

 

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

God’s identification with the poor

Psalm 9:9 (NIV)

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."

 

Psalm 10:17-18 (NIV)

"You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror."

 

Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

 

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

 

Matthew 8:20 (NIV)

"Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'"

 

2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)

“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 through his poverty might become rich.”

 

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!"