Is Poverty Ever From God?

Reading Level: Gratifying

In most realms of religion, there seems to be a prevalent concept that poverty makes a person more pious.

The added deduction from this concept is that God sends poverty on His people to teach them or purify them. There are several possible reasons for the development of this line of thought. First, difficulty does often cause a person to reach out to God, to someone greater than himself, resulting in character growth. Hence, people assume God sent it. Scripture actually says that God works to bring good out of evil done to us (Gen. 50:20; Deut. 23:5; Rom. 8:28). A second possible reason for the development of this poverty concept is the misquoting of the Scripture about money. Scripture actually says that the “love” of money leads to all kinds of evil, not wealth itself.

God expresses that poverty is destructive to people, a trait contrary to God’s nature.

Though more examples could be given, these two make it clear that poverty is not a type of “learning tool” sent by God. God says,

  • Poverty is the ruin of the poor (NIV). [Another translation-] The destruction of the poor is their poverty (NKJV Pr. 10:15).
  • [The context of this quote is speaking about laziness…] and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man making you helpless (AMP).

In contrast to the idea of poverty being from God, the traits of ruin, destruction, and other harm are listed in Scripture as having their origin in satan. Pay particular attention to Jesus’ description of the contrasting life God gives.

  • The thief [referring to the devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus speaking] have come that you may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance till it overflows (AMP Jn. 10:10).
  • Be vigilant and cautious at all times, for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion in fierce hunger, seeking someone to seize upon and devour (AMP 1 Pet. 5:8).

God’s description of His love and concern for your life is in complete opposition to the concept of bringing poverty with its destruction, ruin, and helplessness into your life.

In addition to the above quote in which Jesus says that His purpose in coming to earth and bringing our spiritual restoration was to enable us to live and enjoy an overflowing life –something poverty does not bring– look carefully at this quote from 1 Pet. 5:7. Since financial troubles are the cause of much anxiety, not only among the poor, but among those of varying economic status, financial trouble even still being the main cause of divorce in the U.S., it is important to mention that God’s statement in 5:7 to bring your anxieties to Him out of His deep love, concern, and care for you immediately precedes in Scripture the verse quoted earlier in this post about the devil trying to destroy us.

  • Cast the whole of your care-all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concern, once and for all-on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and watchfully (1 Pet. 5:7).

Let me reiterate for clarity. In 1 Pet. 5:7, God explains His deep care for your life and encourages you to come to Him with all your anxieties and concerns. In 5:8, the very next verse, He warns you against the works of satan or the devil to destroy your life. If God said that poverty is destructive (Prov. 10:15), and that the devil brings the harmful events which can destroy you (1 Pet. 5:8, Jn. 10:10), we cannot honestly continue to attribute poverty to God. It also would be absurd for God to tell you to come to Him with all the cares of your life because He is watchfully caring for you if He was, at the same time, the cause of all your grief!

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A portrait of lives that are blessed in the physical realm as well as in the spiritual is what God describes for those who seek Him.

In one of the main passages describing God’s covenant with His people, He says that those who “fully obey” Him will be blessed in city, in the country, coming in, going out, in their families, investments, businesses, and everything they put their hands to (Deut. 28:1-13). God intends for every facet of life to be in a state of blessing for the person who diligently lives for Him. The Hebrew term for “fully obey” is not quite translated well. It is actually the word, shama`, twice in the oiginal language. Shama` means “to hear intelligently for attentive obedience (1).” If I were to oversimplify this quote, it is as if God is saying, “For those of you who “really listen to me for the purpose of obeying (shama`), and I mean, actually follow through with my teachings (shama`), all these blessings will flood your life.”

Some people may say that covenant of God only applied to the Jews living at that time in history under Mosaic law, but in 2 Cor. 1:20, it says to us, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” God’s promises do not expire. They are still “Yes” for you! When a person attentively listens to God and lives accordingly, his life can be under the protection of God from the destroying work of satan. Rom. 8:2 says that the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death; all the harmful elements of life brought about by the evil in this world, God desires to free us from. Similarly, in Gal. 3:13, it says that Christ Jesus redeemed us from the curse through His work of salvation.

When you are faced with poverty or any other destructive force, go to God with your anxieties because He does watchfully and affectionately care for you! The more you live under His guidance, the more areas of your life will be freed from the effects of evil in this world and begin to respond to God’s promise of blessing. Don’t allow a false concept of God being the source of destruction in your life to keep you from the One who honestly desires you to live and enjoy life in a level of overflowing abundance.

(1) Hebrew definition from Strong’s Dictionary of Old Testament Words.

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