How Do You Respond to Poverty?

The way you interact with the poor can say a lot about your heart.

You may live a blessed life, but sooner or later you’ll come across someone in unfortunate circumstances. Seeing poverty up close can startle you. And the way you respond to poverty says a lot about your heart.

No matter whether you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle, money can control your heart in unhealthy ways. The Bible tells us that money can make slaves of us and change the way we relate to other people.

One of the best ways of checking your heart for signs of money slavery is to evaluate the way you react to people whose financial situations are  different from ours. We recently looked at warning signs in the way we look at the wealthy. Today, let’s use the same approach to evaluate the way that we think about the poor.

The way you respond to poverty says a lot about your heart. tweet this!

God cares a lot about the way we respond to poverty. Our hearts should overflow with compassion, charity and outreach toward the poor. But all too often we let other attitudes sneak in.

If you recognize any of these attitudes in the way you respond to poverty, you might want to rethink the way you interact with poor people.

1) Pity

When you see poor people in difficult circumstances, it’s natural to feel sad about it. But your reaction to that sadness is an indication of something else inside you. And if that sadness leads you to pity, it can hold you back from making a difference.

Pity can seem like a charitable feeling, but it rings hollow. Pity acknowledges the problems of others without offering any help in solving them. Pity looks at a situation from a distance and says “How awful!” and “Thank goodness that’s not me,” without saying “What can I do to help?”

The best way to respond to poverty is not pity, but compassion. tweet this!

The best way to respond to poverty is not pity, but compassion. Compassion sees a need and reacts to fulfill it. Pity is only a selfish counterfeit of compassion.

2) Contempt

Sometimes we blame poor people for their difficult circumstances. And while bad choices can perpetuate financial problems, blaming the poor for their own problems breeds contempt in our hearts.

Contempt makes you angry at poor people. It can even make you think they deserve to live the way they do. Contemptuous people resent the burdens that poor people place on society and don’t want to do anything to help solve their problems.

We should respond to poverty with contempt because contempt doesn’t have any place in God’s heart. He loves the poor and wants His people to provide for them. We can’t love people well while secretly hating them at the same time.

God loves the poor and wants His people to provide for them. tweet this!

3) Superiority

Maybe you don’t have pity or contempt for the poor. Maybe you even give or volunteer to help them. But your acts of generosity or service should never lead you to feel superior to the people you’re helping.

Having more money than someone else doesn’t make you better than them. There are thousands of factors that can contribute to poverty, just as there are thousands that contribute to wealth. The poor don’t deserve poverty any more than you deserve wealth.

If you feel superior to the poor, your may be finding too much of your identity in your own financial status.

4) Inferiority

Some people don’t feel superior to the poor at all. In fact, they respond to poverty by idolizing poor people.

Some people believe the poor are morally superior to the rich. Others go so far as to say that poverty is the most religious way to live. This line of thought has led to all sorts of misunderstandings in Christian culture.

Poverty doesn't make anyone any better or worse than you. tweet this!

But poverty doesn’t make anyone any better or worse than you. Some poor people live lives of incredible character and integrity. Others are captives to sin and bad habits. It’s dangerous to consider yourself inferior to anyone based on your finances or theirs.

5) Detachment

Of all the attitudes that we can feel toward the poor, perhaps the most dangerous is detachment.

It’s easy to go through daily life without having to look a poor person in the face. They may not live in your neighborhood or work in your office. Their kids probably don’t go to school with your kids. And when you never see the poor, you begin to slowly slowly forget them.

When you never see the poor, you begin to slowly slowly forget them. tweet this!

Detachment is is incredibly common. When we don’t see the poor, we don’t think about them, and consequently we do little to help them. The more the middle and upper classes become detached from the poor, the less society does to help the poor escape poverty.

Growing Together

Changing the way you respond to poverty is part of growing into the financial freedom God created you to live in. And that process doesn’t happen overnight. Financial freedom is a journey you take one step at a time, and the journey is better with friends.

If you’re ready to start living God’s plan for your heart and your money, join me and a community of people in our Facebook group, FINANCIAL FREEDOM. Every day, we share insightful articles, encouraging photos and personal stories to help you focus your heart and your habits on God’s plan for your freedom.

This group is a great place for you to interact with me, ask me questions, share experiences and learn from others. Along the way, you might even grow in your faith.

Join us today to accelerate your own journey to freedom!


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