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Poverty:  Will the war against it ever be won? 

Gary Googe Sep 20

Some of you who are older may recall President Lyndon Johnson’s program that was said to be a war on poverty.  Was that war won? Here we are many years later and poverty around the world and even here in America continues.  Will this war ever be won? Could this war have been won if it had been fought differently? Most importantly, what does the Bible tell us about this? Does the Bible give us some wisdom we should have about this problem?

Sometimes people complain that the Bible is not a “practical” book.  Because of their thinking on that, they see no profit in devoting time to studying it. But what do the Scriptures tell us about that?

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect [TELEIOS = fully developed, mature] thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]

As some who read this will know, my wife and I once built a highly successful business applying biblical principles in the development of it.  I even produced a newsletter to our people every month with a front-page article where I often presented biblical principles that needed to be learned and applied if success was to be achieved. One of the biggest problems I saw in people was an unwillingness to work as hard as they needed to so as to get the return they were hoping for.  One of the most common phrases I ever presented was—The business won’t work if you won’t.  Another phrase was—Success always comes dressed in overalls. Scripture clearly states the same in other words.

Proverbs 6:6-11

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard [referring to a lazy person]; consider her ways, and be wise:

7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler [being self-motivated],

8 Provideth her meat [food] in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Then a promise is given.

11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth [as it is with a hobo], and thy want [desperate circumstances] as an armed man. [Emphasis added]

One thing you’ll find is that most people who are lazy don’t think of themselves as being lazy.  Working and learning to work smart and consistently illudes many people.  Then they wonder why they live as “a have not.”

A major first step toward material prosperity is gaining spiritual prosperity. Salvation is important but that alone is not enough.  What so many fail to understand is that the laws of free enterprise are God’s laws, not man’s! Every sound principle of economics has its origin in God and in the Scriptures of the Bible.  Even unbelievers can learn and apply many of these principles with huge results.  As we noted above, even ants can practice these principles and prosper.  When people succeed in business, they often don’t even know they’re applying God’s principles, but that’s exactly what the honestly prosperous people are doing.  I have written many articles about all this in the days we were in business.  But as always, the key is application.  All too often people know at least the basics of what they should be doing, but they just won’t do it and do it with consistency over a long period of time.  All too often, even if they get started on the right track, they get distracted along the way.

For the reasons given above and more, we will always have poverty in the world.  That will never change until Christ returns to the Earth to establish and govern His earthly kingdom.  Please note our Lord’s clear statement on this.

Matthew 26:11

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. [Emphasis added]

America was once an extremely prosperous nation.  But that prosperity has been steadily leaving our shores for many years now.  Why is that? Answer:  For the exact same reason it has happened to so many other countries before our time.  Along comes a generation that moves away from the sound principles governing economics that are set forth in the BibleThat’s exactly what happens! For instance, instead of being a capitalistic society, we’ve become a credit society.  Just look at our national debt, and that’s just “the tip of the iceberg.” To most that only seems to be an economic problem.  No, it runs much deeper than that! It is first and foremost a spiritual problem.  Unless the American people come to the point of seeing that, things will only get worse.  Doesn’t it make sense to say that if you don’t even know what the real problem is, you’re not going to come up with the real solution.  But everywhere I turn people are looking for a political solution, an economic solution, a social solution, and more of such.  But what is not understood is that these are all symptoms of the problem, not the cause.  We certainly have some major problems in all those areas, but those all fall under the umbrella of one thing—the spiritual solution which involves getting back to the Bible.  Yet that’s the one thing most people are not at all interested in doing, at least not seriously.  We have many church steeples, many remnants of what once was, but the reality has left us.  Studying the Bible with a view toward applying it is no longer a priority for so many people.  Even being a hearer of the Word of God is not enough.  It must be learned and applied daily.

James 1:22-24

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass [a mirror]:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was [he sees the need for what needs to be done but won’t do it]. [Emphasis added]

Always realize that the improvement of one’s circumstances always demands change.  Poor people are going to have to change their thinking and their work habits if their economic situation is going to be improved.  Another well-known saying you’ve probably heard is this— “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”  But the Bible tells us about this same thing in other words.

Galatians 6:7

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. [Emphasis added]

Everything you say, everything you do, every choice you make, sooner or later comes back around to you.  What so many fail to realize is that the Bible provides the best guidance in all this to get the best results. 

Another important saying in this is—If all else fails, follow instructions! Again, the best of instructions are found in the Bible.  For unbelievers, people who are still not Heaven-bound, they need what is called the gospel, the good news about what Jesus Christ did to provide them with a way of salvation.

Matthew 11:5

5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. [Emphasis added]

That gospel message God has for us today is summed up in this next passage I cite often.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Paul also tells us specifically what happened on that cross.

2 Corinthians 5:19-21

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

All the sins of the world were put on Christ and He paid the full penalty for them all.

20 Now then we are ambassadors [personal representatives] for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

This work of full circle reconciliation happens for any person the moment they accept this provision God made for them.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

Do you understand what this is saying to all of us? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?  If you’re already a Christian, what time have you spent in the Bible today? What about this week, this month, or this year? Most people spend far more time watching television commercials than they do studying their Bible. How are you investing your time? What principles have you learned this week that’ll make a difference in your life as well as in those around you? Some of those differences will be in material things.

Many people in the world today are impoverished materially because they are spiritually bankrupt.  Yes, this “war on poverty” is first a personal issue.  If you expect to win the war on poverty in your own life, you had better be sure no dust is allowed to gather on your Bible.  We even have Bible apps for our phones these days, so there’s no real excuse at all in any of this.  And if you’re not attending a local church where the Bible is taught verse by verse, find one!  Don’t let social issues of any kind keep you from doing this.  If there’s nothing local [and often there isn’t] find something on the internet.  THERE I know it is available.  For one, there’s our website at 4Us2UsMinistries.com. There you’ll find both articles and videos to give you everything you need in correct teaching concerning many things.

Certainly, many people live a materially impoverished life due to no fault of their own. Things in their environment, political and otherwise, contribute to their poverty.  But if that’s ever going to change, that change begins with one person at a time. making one good decision at a time. Then things can change dramatically.  Perhaps the first step is to decide to live one’s life with integrity, regardless of what everyone else seems to be doing.  Please note the wise words of Solomon, the richest man who has ever lived.

Proverbs 19:1

1Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. [Emphasis added]

Again, if the poverty problem is to ever be solved, it is the spiritual factor that offers the true solution.  We have a wonderful story about this in an incident that occurred during Christ’s earthly ministry.

Matthew 26:6-13

6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious [BARUTIMOS = expensive] ointment , and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat [reclining on pillows around the table Roman style].

8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Judas who initiated this was a thief.  Like so many “do-gooders” in our time, he had no genuine interest in helping the poor.  Scripture tells us Judas wanted to get the money it could have brought to the disciples’ treasury so he could steal from it [John 12:6 & 13:29].

10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

Jesus is by no means unsympathetic; He just knows that poverty will continue as it still does today.

12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

She realizes the religious leaders will soon work a way to bring about His death because of His teaching.

13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. [Emphasis added]

Prophesy in the Bible clearly declares that poverty will continue right on.  Note what was told to the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 15:11

11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. [Emphasis added]

Not until Christ sets up His earthly kingdom at the time of His return to Earth will poverty end.  Meanwhile, aside from being helpful materially, our main responsibility to the poor is to give them the gospel message so that they might be saved.  This was Christ’s program in the time of His earthly ministry, and it should be ours today.

Again, Matthew 11:5

5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. [Emphasis added]

We today can’t perform miracles to help them, but we surely can be helpful and generous in our treatment of them in a variety of ways.  Let us all get on with that, giving the gospel message our first priority in this!

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