Preparing To Serve: A Biblical View Of Poverty

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


What is poverty?

As you begin this plan, take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions:

How would you define poverty?

What images come to mind when you think of poverty?

Many people, especially Westerners, think first of a lack of material resources. 

What was the first thing you thought of in your definition? 

Material lack is certainly one defining element of poverty. But to grasp the full breadth and depth of poverty from a biblical perspective, we must begin in the Garden. 

When God created Adam and Eve, He made them in His own image (Genesis 1:27). 

These new image-bearers, like their Maker, were relational. They enjoyed fellowship with each other, with God, within themselves, and with the rest of creation. In Genesis 3, however, their disobedience introduced brokenness to each of these four relationships, warping and twisting them. 

As a result of the Fall, all of us experience the poverty of broken relationships. As international development experts Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert write in When Helping Hurts, “The Fall really happened, and it is wreaking havoc in all of our lives. We are all broken, just in different ways.” 

  • We can experience brokenness in our relationship with God as we seek independence and live life for our own interests. 

  • We can view ourselves poorly, either thinking too highly or too lowly of ourselves. 

  • We can lose sight of the image of God in one another, hurting each other and limiting our capacity to reflect God’s love to a broken world. 

  • And we can experience brokenness in our relationship with created things, forgetting our calling to steward God’s resources in a way that honors Him and our neighbor. 

This understanding of poverty does not overlook the very real suffering experienced by those in material poverty. Instead, it helps us come alongside our brothers and sisters with humility, understanding that we are broken too. 

And as we acknowledge our mutual brokenness, God’s love compels us to act. 

Over the course of this plan, we’ll look at what Scripture has to say about spiritual and material poverty and discover how to respond in a way that reflects God’s heart.