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Ruth 1:1–5

“Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband” (vv. 3–5).

Scripture gives us guiding principles for pleasing God in all of life, and this includes matters of stewardship and economics, including wealth and poverty. In a day when many people are confused about economic issues, we should not forget that the Bible never says that having great wealth is inherently sinful or that poverty is inherently righteous. Many people believe that the Bible teaches that “money is the root of all evil”; however, 1 Timothy 6:10 actually says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” When we are considering the biblical view of wealth and poverty, let us never forget that money in itself is never the problem. The issue is our hearts. Loving money is a sin and leads to many other sins, but having lots of money does not inevitably equate to loving it.

Many examples in Scripture prove this. For example, Abraham was one of the wealthiest men in the ancient Near East (Gen. 13:2). Yet, God’s Word also highlights him as one of the premier examples of faith (Heb. 11:17–19). Abraham shows us that riches and righteousness can go together. Yet, people who live in poverty can be great sinners. For instance, Judas was a disciple of Jesus and as such faced poverty from time to time (Luke 9:58). In his case, poverty did not lead to holiness, for his love of money drove him to commit the worst sin imaginable in betraying Jesus to the authorities who wanted to kill Him (Matt. 26:14–16; John 12:1–8).

We can also look to the created order to see what it has to say about these issues. It is clear from the world that standards of poverty and wealth are not fixed but vary from place to place and from era to era. In the modern West, we can point to people who live below the “poverty line.” Without making light of their struggles, we also note that even the poorest in the West usually have access to clean water and electricity, which is not true in less-developed nations.

Wealth and poverty standards may vary, but God is concerned for the poor in every nation and calls His people to help them. Doing so wisely requires that we know the reason for their poverty. Scripture indicates that some people are poor because of a tragedy, perhaps a debilitating illness or the death of a provider, such as we see in today’s passage. Widows and orphans who have no family to support them fall into this category. The church is to help meet the needs of these individuals, as James 1:27 tells us, especially if these people are members of our local churches.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Not every widow or orphan is in need of financial assistance, but the church must take care of those who are. Often, churches have deacons’ or benevolence funds to help those who have no family support, so let us give to these funds as we are able. But we can help in other ways as well, such as befriending widows, orphans, and others who have no family support in our congregations and making sure they are not forgotten during holidays and other special occasions.

For Further Study
  • Exodus 22:22
  • Deuteronomy 15:11
  • Mark 12:38–40
  • 1 Timothy 5:3–16

God’s Call to Stewardship

Other Causes of Poverty

Keep Reading The Kingdom of God

From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue