Who Are the Poor?

If you don’t stir things up, the people on the bottom get burned.”

Who are the poor in our society? Who are the voiceless? Who are the ones we are to be standing up for, seeking justice? Who are those on the “bottom” of our society that are in danger of getting burned?

In the Old Testament, four categories of people are continually named as needing justice. Listen to the words of the prophet Zechariah: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: Administer justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor” (Zechariah 7:10-11).

Widows, orphans, immigrant, poor; these are the four categories of people that have a special place in God’s heart. In the days of the Old Testament prophets, these were the groups of people who had no social power. These four groups represent a society’s minorities, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised. Today it would include migrant workers, homeless, the elderly, single parents, and people with AIDS.

Basically, anywhere people are oppressed, mistreated, abused, and silent, God’s people must stand up for them, defend them, and minister to them.

“The LORD your God…defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).

This Sunday, when you gather for worship at your local church, take a look around you. Do you see any vulnerable people? Where are the widows, orphans, immigrants, and poor? Where are the homeless, the elderly, single parents, and people with AIDS? What about the prostitute, the drunkard, the drug addict, the convicted felon? Are any of those people there, or is everyone around you just like you?

I am asking myself these same questions, and I am a pastor.


About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider, author...in that order.
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12 Responses to Who Are the Poor?

  1. John Smith says:

    Hi Kevin! How much of this was spoken to the governing aspect of Israel’s responsibility as a national government? How much of this falls upon the New Testament Church? For sure the total need is far beyond the financial capability of the Church. I think our government system of aid is duplicative, overloaded with layers of bureaucracy and does many thing for those who are not truly poor thereby encouraging lack of initiative.

    • revkev43 says:

      I think it is both. Yes, the church is responsible to help those in need and to look out for the vulnerable. Yes, some issues are so large the government has to help. Yes, I believe the church needs to hold the government accountable and work to pass legislation that will help the vulnerable. Yes, government aid is duplicative and overloaded with bureaucracy. So I know it is an incredibly complicated issue. However, personally, I am more concerned with the church not fulfilling its own responsibility to help the poor then I am government bureaucracy. Pres. Bush was right on with his “faith based initiatives” and, believe it or not, Pres. Obama has continued most of that. The church can do a far more effective job than the government.

  2. John Smith says:

    Kevin here is a Heritage Foundation plan I think makes sense.
    Big Ideas
    A tax system that is simple, stable, fair, and pro-growth
    Government assistance only to those who truly need help
    A permanently balanced federal budget within 10 years
    Government reduced to its constitutionally authorized powers
    Health coverage for American workers and families through tax credits and premium assistance
    A guarantee that no American will have to live in poverty
    A commitment to reduce the growing debt that threatens our children and grandchildren

    Full details and reasoning of the plan can be found here.

    • revkev43 says:

      Again, thanks John. However, there will always be disagreement on who truly needs help and who doesn’t. But there is no doubt that in order for our government to get back on track, entitlements will have to be cut. I pray the church is ready to pick up the slack of family who will fall into poverty when that happens.

      • John Smith says:

        Kevin in which Faith Based Programs could a small congregation get directly involved?

      • revkev43 says:

        I guess that would be dependent on the neighborhood, but I would start with affordable housing issues, providing food and clothes and job training. Community organizations are ideal for the small church. Our church is small, but we partner with 2 affordable housing groups (I am on the board of 1 of them), a group dedicated to racial reconciliation, and food distributions. I am also in the Rotary, where I learn of other opportunities. A good friend of mine is committed to feeding 1 million people in one day; that last Sat. in Sept. because Sept. is hunger awareness month. Go to a website, 1genaway (i think) and you can learn more and how your church could partner with that.

  3. Kevin,
    It’s http://www.onegenaway.com. Food, clothing, housing, and jobs pretty much cover it. I like you, believe the church no matter what size, can and should make a huge impact int he lives of those in need. Really honored to serve with you.

  4. tosborn777 says:

    I believe that if the Government has to almost totally cut back on entitlement programs it could be a unexpected blessing. It would force almost all the responsibility on to Faith bassed organizations which have historically been better at identifying legitamate needs verses fraud and abuse. The smaller the church or faith based organization is, the more dilligent it tends to be on making sure of the legitamcy of the need. Also, in the long term I believe that if this happens with the help of faith based groups we would se more people empowered to enter the workforce at a level at which they could make a decent wage.

    • revkev43 says:

      I hope you are right, Tim. I am not quite as optimistic. If all the “social services” (or at least the majority) went back to churches and faith based initiatives (and I am all for that) I think we would just see how incredibly selfish our churches have become. Helping those in need would really cut into our building and program budgets. The church freely gave this responsibility over the the government a generation ago and we are paying the price.

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