Poverty is a result of sin.
I’ve been toying around with this idea in my head for a few months now, and after studying the subject I’m ready to make a public declaration. I believe that poverty — all poverty — can somehow be traced back to sinful attitudes and behavior. Because God didn’t create poverty, and He never intended for people to lack the basic necessities of life. In fact, everything that we know about God tells us that He is a God of abundance.
If poverty isn’t God’s design, then it’s something that only occurs in the world when we go astray from God’s principles. And the thing that separates us from God’s principles is our sinful nature. At its root, all poverty comes from sin.
Poverty is not God’s plan
Poverty is a type of spiritual and financial slavery, a condition that God never intended us to live in. We know this because of many things that He tells us in scripture. There are a lot of different ways that we could study this in the Bible, but for today I’ve chosen a simple passage from Deuteronomy 15:4-6 that spells the idea out pretty clearly:
4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
There are two key concepts that we can take away from this passage. The first is that poverty is not necessary. God tells the people up front that “there need be no poor people among you.” Why? Because the world that He created for us and the land that He gives us to live in are good. And beyond that, God’s heart is to bless people, with abundant food, abundant money, and abundant resources. Remember, everything in the world belongs to God, and He gives it to us to take care of our needs.
The second takeaway here is that our abundance is conditional. God doesn’t promise to take care of all of our physical needs no matter what we do. Instead, He makes it clear in verse five of this passage that blessing is conditional on obedience. “If only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.” God’s promise of provision only applies as long as we are walking in His principles.
Does that mean that God is vengeful and vindictive, punishing those who disobey him with poverty? Not at all. What it means is that God is so good and so loving that He spells out exactly how we should live in order to enjoy wealth and abundance. Most of us would never have figured out how to live in abundance on our own. So in His mercy, God showed us how. If you want to enjoy financial freedom, it’s easy — you just need to do precisely what God tells you to do.
Directions to the party
Think about it like this: A friend invites you to come to a lavish party that he’s throwing at his private lodge in the mountains. It promises to be a wonderful night of fun and feasting. The only problem is that the mountains are steep and the roads are difficult to navigate. If you don’t know exactly how to get to his lodge, you’re certain to get lost on your way. But your friend really wants to have you there, so along with the invitation, he sends you a detailed map.
As long as you follow your friend’s map, you’re going to eventually arrive at his party. The trip may be arduous — you are traversing mountains, after all — and it may take a while to make your way. But the map doesn’t lead you astray. The directions are true, and at the end of the road is the promised reward.
But what happens to all of the people that discarded the map? Will they ever make it to the party? A few of them may stumble upon the lodge on their own, but many, many more will not. Those that try to go their own way or attempt to take shortcuts are going to get hopelessly lost. They’ll never arrive at the party — instead, they’ll spend the evening driving around hungry in the cold, dark night.
So it goes with sin and poverty. God wants to bless us richly and give us wonderful things. But the road to blessing is narrow and winding. He has given us detailed instructions about the right ways to live abundantly. If we’re faithful in following those directions we can’t help but to be blessed. If we abandon the directions, though, we have no hope at all, and it’s our own fault.
Poverty, sin and fairness
Before you get up in arms, let me address some of your objections head-on. I’m not saying that every poor person has committed some horrible sin in their lives, and I’m not saying that people deserve to be poor because they do bad things. Very often — too often — people suffer in poverty because people in their families, their countries or their governments have sinned against them. It’s certainly not fair. But then again, sin is never fair, and victims never deserve the mistreatment that they receive.
In upcoming articles, we’re going to discuss the practical ways that sin causes poverty, both on an individual level and on a societal level. But for today, ask yourself this: I’ve been given a map to the party. Am I willing to follow the directions?
Photo by Martin SoulStealer. Used under Creative Commons License.