October 20, 2006

Who Are the Poor?

Who are the poor? Sound like a simple question? Well I wish it was. I think I have a pretty good idea of who the “poor” are by the assessment of our culture but that’s not what I am talking about.

What I want to know is who are the “poor” the Bible refers to; don’t be too quick to answer. I don’t think it has much to do with gross or net income. I say that because there was a time—actually a fairly protracted time in my earlier years when I was just starting out as a family. I was in school, trying to work, trying to support that family and truly doing my best to make ends meet and with God’s blessing, I did. But according to the government’s standards, we were officially “poor.” But that was the only indication we had that we were so.

We had a decent place to live, plenty of food, we had medical care when it was needed, and frankly we even had a number of what I would call luxuries and treats. I certainly didn’t feel poor.

As I commenced my third career in pastoral ministry with a family of five, we were again “poor.” Or so we were told. Again, we didn’t feel poor.

So who are the poor we’re supposed to help out in times of need? Is it the person whose income is at the poverty level because he doesn’t work even though he can? (The Bible uses strong language about that person.)

Is the person who is on “disability” many of whom I have known are certainly able to do some kind of work but have a doctor’s excuse so they are poor?

Is it the person who has been utterly irresponsible with the income he has but finds himself poor because he lives beyond his means?

Is the person considered “poor” by biblical standards if they made a really bad or many bad life-changing decisions yet they were warned by scores of friends about making such decisions?

I would really like to know because I know many people who are in many of the situations I have mentioned and I just get all twisted over where does compassionate benevolence end and irresponsible enabling of sin begin?

I’m serious, I really want to know. Any ideas? Please post a comment!


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