Today’s reading is from Proverbs 14:19-35.
People can become poor for many reasons. Some reasons are hard to avoid. If you’re a farmer and a tornado wipes out your house, your barn, and everything you’ve planted this year, that’s going to be a big step toward poverty. If you own a profitable buggy whip business, you might lose it all if you can’t transition to a new product when people start buying cars.
Other causes of poverty are self-inflicted: overspending, gambling, foolish investments and others would fall into this category. Here in Proverbs we have been warned about some foolish behaviors that lead to poverty, but in verse 31 we read today, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Note that there are no qualifications. The verse does not say, “if you’re kind to people who are poor when it isn’t their fault...” Instead, the scripture commends generosity flowing from one’s love for God.
It is true that too much assistance can lead to dependence for the poor but that’s something that happens when the government creates programs that give people disincentives to work. If you have faith in God as a believer in Christ, your attitude should be one of generosity toward the poor. Let God deal with the causes of poverty and the abusers of charity; let your faith in Christ lead you to be generous.