Have you been following the discussion on this post – Why We Can’t End Poverty?

It’s been lively, deep, heated, tense, stimulating, frustrating and just simply down home good. We like honesty.

The comment thread birthed a related, but new subject. We’d like to give our new baby its own home.

Welcome!

Let us know what you think. Why does poverty exist?

  • 19 Comments
  • Print This Post Print This Post
  • Add a Comment

19 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Jul 16, 2008
    at 2:56 pm

    Yes, the dialogue has been great over on the other post…and this is a question that won’t be easy to answer. Maybe as many answers as there are commentors.

    I’ll throw my .02 in:

    I believe poverty exists for a variety of reasons:

    -sin. (Yes, I think sin plays a role. Not necesarily in the lives of the poor, but the greed and corruption withing governments that are supposed to be taking care of their people…and greed of those who “have” and do not share.)

    -lack of education

    -lack of resources

    -environmental factors (disasters, etc.)

    -men not providing for their families

    -Disease creates poverty (i.e. taking income providers away from families)

    In short, poverty exists because this is a broken and fallen world. But I believe it is an opportunity for God’s people to BE THE CHURCH He talked about in His Word…and care for them.

  2. Jul 16, 2008
    at 3:18 pm

    Sin.

    We can go back to the Garden to find its roots, but today’s poverty exists because of today’s sin; and in a word, that sin is selfishness and greed (I know, that’s two words).

    The person in the other forum was half correct when he suggested it is our past sin (again, going back to Adam) that has caused this horrid condition, but make no mistake about it; it is the ever-present sin of self that perpetuates the condition. Oppression is nothing more than a manifestation of greed.

    And to make matters worse, present-day poverty is the church’s fault—just do the math. There are two-billion people in the world who call themselves Christian. If these same Christians were truly born again, that is to say that their ‘old man’ was dead and they were reasonably repented, selfishness would be dead as well, and in this state it would be no-big-thing to help three other, less fortunate folks.
    As a result, by day’s end, seven billion people are living adequate lives.

    That isn’t happening because the majority of ‘Blessed Christians’ have not turned away from the sin that sustains poverty: selfishness–myself included.

    Lord help us all.

  3. Jul 16, 2008
    at 3:59 pm

    sin

  4. Jul 16, 2008
    at 4:04 pm

    The church’s sloth (which I whole-heartedly include myself in). It’s not the only reason but imagine if it *weren’t* a reason. Oh my, how the world would be different.

  5. Jul 16, 2008
    at 4:04 pm

    “Present day poverty is the church’s fault?” Only partially. It is the fault of everyone who sins. That’s all of us, churched and unchurched alike.

    Some people will choose poverty despite our best efforts to help them out of it, just as in C.S. Lewis’ “Great Divorce” the majority of a bus full of tourists chose hell over heaven.

    If the Church mobilized all its resources to end poverty, could it? Not completely. But it sure could make a big dent in it.

  6. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Jul 16, 2008
    at 4:10 pm

    This isn’t an answer to the question, but it’s related. One of the interesting parts of my job is I get to receive interviews with children about what 3 questions they would like to ask God (which are used on Wess Stafford’s radio program, “Speak Up With Compassion.”) These questions very often make me laugh out loud (questions like, “Do you like burritos, God?”)

    But often the questions make me want to cry. One of the questions children ask over and over and over in their prayers to God is “why am I poor?” “Why does my neighbor have more than me?” “Why don’t we have more to eat?”
    It’s humbling to hear these children’s earnest plea to God, asking these same questions.

  7. Jul 17, 2008
    at 12:37 am

    When I really think about it, I have to say it’s greed. I think about those in poverty, those who are paid unfairly; it’s because of greed. The reason the wealth is not distributed evenly in the world is that those who have more than enough do not let their ears hear the cry of the poor, because they are more fascinated with getting something pretty and shiny that catches their attention. And, of course, greed is a sin… so… I guess it’s kinda sin-related too.

  8. Jul 17, 2008
    at 6:26 am

    I say it is the church’s fault because we know better. Much of the unchurched world falsely believes that a) the poor are not their responsibility and, b) they (the unchurched) are entitled to grab as much ‘gusto’ as they can get.

    Look around America (for instance)…What is the message? “You’re number one!” Or, “You deserve a break today!” Or, “Have it YOUR way!”

    The unchurched are being lied to, but Christians who have bought into this nonsense have no excuse.

    In that light, the church (who is quite capable of eradicating the poverty problem) is asleep at the wheel. When God said the poor would always be with us, it is because He knows Christians tend to fall asleep very easily.

    It IS the church’s fault and it IS my fault as well.

    How can we expect the unsaved world to pull their weight, when we aren’t pulling our own–together, we ‘are the world’, but Christians are the messengers and our messages are ‘mixed’ at best.

    What should the church’s response be?

    Well we all know the answer to that, but in reality the question MUST be, “As a member of the Body of Christ, what should MY response be?”

    As much as I am a messenger to the unsaved, I am also a witness to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Cd

  9. Jul 17, 2008
    at 10:35 am

    It’s really tough to try to come up with something new, in answer to this question. I can’t do it. I will say simply that, yes, I believe poverty results from the kinds of situations Tim mentioned. However, I think that, were it not for the sin of greed–the lust for money, for things money can buy, for more of whatever we want, and the lust for power–that many of the problems in Tim’s list could be resolved. Developing nations could do a better job at educating their people, if they weren’t corrupt. The world jumps in to help, following major disasters. The long-term illness or death of a provider could be compensated for by neighbors (including the churches in the area, or the church at large). Resources are abundant, in this world, and could be available to those in poverty, with some ingenuity and the willingness to get in and get it done.

    But, as Tim said, this is a broken and fallen world. It is the job of God’s people to bring redemption through Jesus Christ in ways both practical and spiritual. Isn’t that what Compassion is about? And if we need to free up more of God’s wealth from those who have it, believers or not, then that’s what we need to do…somehow.

  10. Sarah
    Jul 22, 2008
    at 11:01 am

    Poverty mainly existes because of sin and I believe God isn’t ready for us to end poverty because he feels it’s the perfict time too. Thats why for right now i am just sharring the good news with everyone.

  11. Jul 22, 2008
    at 7:25 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this discussion!

    I SO agree with the sentiments expressed in “Why We Can’t End Poverty.” The Bible never tells us to END poverty… because He knew our condition. Poverty, greed, lust, famine, etc… they are all part of this fallen world. We are – however – supposed to care for the poor. We are supposed to love them in Jesus’ name.

    We can’t end poverty, like we can’t end widows or prisoners. So it’s good that we’re not called to. :-) God can be glorified in the poverty when we step up and satisfy someone’s need “in Jesus’ name”… then Christ is actually lifted up! SO ending poverty would actually – sorta – be BAD!

    I am bewildered by so-called Christians who push for secular, humanist means of fighting poverty through governmental wealth redistribution. While some additional poor will have their needs met, it’s not being done in Jesus’ name and therefore God does not get the glory. Less people are in need. The love of Christ wasn’t shared. Satan wins.

    God did not call us to lobby the government to feed the poor. He told US to do it ourselves. Poverty exists so God can be glorified through our compassion and obedience to His commands.

  12. Romy
    Nov 25, 2008
    at 12:57 am

    Poverty must be ended. Maybe we weren’t told to, but there are many things that we weren’t told to do, and we did them anyway!. So whether or not we were ever told to end it, we have to try. Because everyone deserves a wholesome and fulfilling life, and this requires the besic, yet absoloutely ESSENTIAL needs that everyone else has. So why can’t people just pull together, and help those in need. If WE never do it, then we pass on the challenge to the next generation, but all I can say is that it must be done, one way or another. For the people living in poverty, and for God. Make him proud, give this fallen, broken world of ours the make-over it so desperately needs.

  13. emma
    Feb 17, 2009
    at 8:07 am

    Can I ask how you can all honestly say it’s because of sin that people are in poverty!?! Have any of you honestly visited somewhere out of the US that is in poverty! YOU YOURSELF SIN why is it that God hasn’t pushed you into poverty? It’s because he doens’t punish people that way for their sins! I’m only 17 I’ve been on 5 mission trips to Haiti and I know what poverty looks like and I know the people who are in poverty they are better christians than I am so I have to say I strongly disagree that the reason they are in poverty is because their sins.

  14. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Feb 17, 2009
    at 9:13 am

    Emma, you are certainly right that there are amazing godly people living in poverty. But I think you’ve misunderstood the above commenters. I don’t think they mean to say that all people who are in poverty are there because of their OWN sin. That is a very different statement from the concept that some poverty exists as a result of sin. As Vicki mentions, some poverty is the result of greed–and not of those in poverty, but of those keeping others in poverty (through unfair wages or even apathy).

  15. Feb 17, 2009
    at 11:37 am

    yes, to clarify, it’s not the Lord punishing people for their sins that folks live in poverty. We live in a world with sin. Someday the world will be whole again – no sin, no poverty. In the meantime, we fight like crazy to do what we can now to help as many as we can.

    Emma, I like your passion and gumption. :) Five mission trips?! Awesome! Keep doing great things for the Lord!

  16. Mark Mcgrew
    Apr 13, 2009
    at 7:26 pm

    Okay, it looks that you all are correct, yet you all have missed the main reason for poverty. God/Jesus needs these people to test others on their giving. So no poverty is going to be around till the end of time. By the way it’s not the skill which will get you the job, it’s who you know, that’s why so many people are working in fields that they can’t really do, or understand, why you may ask, family taking care of family, and friends, cause people as a whole are stupid…

  17. Mark Mcgrew
    Apr 13, 2009
    at 7:42 pm

    “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

    Listen, my dear brothers: 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? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

    If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
    —James 2:1-9 (NIV)

    Why is it the natural thing for us humans to notice those with wealth and popularity, but almost ignore those who are poor? This should not be… James tells us so; Jesus tells us so throughout the New Testament; and looking back through history we can see that God’s heart is overwhelmingly for the poor. If the Lord who we serve and try to model our lives after cares so much for the poor, then so should we!

    The Origin of Poverty
    Where did poverty begin? Let’s look back to the beginning of beginnings—Genesis. Creation and the Fall. Genesis 3 records for us Eve’s taking of the forbidden fruit and offering it to Adam, which he accepted. So God says to Eve:

    “‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life… By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’”
    —Genesis 3:16-17, 19 (NIV)

  18. Apr 17, 2009
    at 11:12 pm

    Poverty exists because you don’t pay your own exployees enough. You make hundreds of millions of dollars. Your executives on the 5th floor make 6 digit figures and my own husband has to take a 2nd job to keep us off welfare – and he works for Compassion International.

  19. aaaaaa
    Aug 9, 2009
    at 5:38 am

    hi guys..u cant talk only about poverty..becoz..does only poverty gain the dadness in to our lives??NO…there are meny things..it is like some ppl r disable form his birth..it is not about religion..can any 1 say a 1 thing that only hapend to one riligion.?no ..becoz all religions r for humans…if some rilign says it is for only their bilevers it is wrong..becoz we dont have a riligion from our birth..anyway poverty or anything that gives happines or sadness to some 1 it is his problem(SIN)..in this life or a othere life ..(i dont know if we have a past or a next birth)he has done gud and bad things.he has to pay all off them..in every minit we do things..u dont have to do bad things if u even think to kill some 1 or a steel something that is also sin..so what is our life is we do things and we get risults ..if u r a really gus person.. u only get gud results..but if u have a past life and u did some thing wron in that lfe..may be u will have to get results in this life..becoz u did get that results in that life..at last we have to be godd.whether we r rich or not …we r beautiful or not..do good things and thing good … just enjoy it is ok..but dont harm any 1..

© 2008-2014 Compassion International. All Rights Reserved.
ECFA Charity Navigator BBB