It’s easy to become numb to poverty.

A man holds up a sign saying that he is hungry. We think, He should have worked harder. A woman says she needs water. We think, She could have helped herself by going to get the water. It wasn’t that far away. Besides, how can you know who to trust in a world of deception and violence?

Those are perfectly human responses to poverty, yet God calls His followers to respond differently. Not with words of irritation, rebuke or mistrust, but instead to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9, NIV).

The Bible tells that us our response to the poor should be one of compassion and assistance. Furthermore, in one of the most detailed descriptions of the final judgment found in the Bible, Jesus states that caring for the hungry, thirsty, strangers, impoverished, and imprisoned—the most marginalized in society—is the same as taking care of Him (Matt. 25:31-46). What we do for “the least of these” (v. 40), we do for Jesus.

God gave ancient Israel an economic plan designed to foster social equality and to take care of everyone, including foreigners in the land. The Law of Moses prescribed that “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove” (Exod. 23:10-11). Elsewhere it decrees, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 23:22, NIV).

Though such regulations may be difficult for us to apply in today’s world, it’s up to us to find ways to apply these principles. We are called to follow God’s example of impartial generosity. Moses wrote, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deut. 10:17-19, NIV).

Christians are called to live out their faith through service. The apostle James wrote, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17, NIV).

The Bible sums up the appropriate response to poverty with a question: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17, NIV).

For a deeper understanding of the issue involved, we suggest people go to the following link: https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/-/homelessness-and-poverty/