Rob Buckingham's Blog
Responding To Poverty
For many it’s a problem they’re aware of, but it’s so big – and they can’t do much – so they do nothing. And so poverty is largely ignored. We see the pictures on TV, but it’s so far away and such a big problem that we turn away and go back to what we were doing.
Others try and justify their inaction by asking questions like: How do we know these people are really poor? Isn’t it largely their own fault? If I give money how do I know it’s going to get to the people who really need it anyway? So the ostrich sticks its head back in the sand and pretends the problem isn’t really that big and hopefully it’ll just go away. But it won’t – not without our help!
Some Christians do little or nothing to help the poor because they have a poverty mindset. I’ve met so many of these people over the years. They talk so much about helping the poor, but they have such an issue with money that they’re not able to help much because they don’t have much. They think that being poor is in some way being spiritual.
Of course if you push that thinking to its logical conclusion then the poorer you are the more spiritual you are, so you might as well sell everything you have and live under a tree. Then you’d be really spiritual! If poverty is spiritual why would you help the poor? If you help them you’re actually making them less spiritual.
The Bible teaches that poverty is a curse. Over 2,200 times in Scripture, God tells His people to help relieve poverty, but why would He do that if poverty were spiritual? And, you only relieve poverty if you have something to give – i.e. wealth.
Two words sum up a right response to world poverty: appreciation and generosity. Rather than being judgmental of what we (and others) have we need to be full of appreciation to God and have a thankful heart. I am so grateful that I live in Australia with all its blessing, prosperity and opportunity. I am also grateful that I have something that I can give to those who have little or nothing. I love to be generous and helping the poor and needy.
Sir Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” In a prosperous country like Australia we have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate than us. It is not God’s will for people to suffer as much as they do. He expects those of us who have to help those who have not. And it doesn’t take a lot – it just takes everyone doing what they can.
It’s easy to say; “The problems too big;” or “Not everyone’s going to help.” But it’s got to start somewhere. All God is asking us to do is to do what we can do.
In Luke 16 Lazarus was “longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.” That is what many in poor nations desire to do. The rich man’s crime was that he didn’t even give Lazarus the food scraps. Let us not be guilty of the same crime – let’s do our part in responding to poverty.