Change Makers

What does the Bible say about poverty?

Yennifer, age 6, holds her family's bible. She lives in Guatemala. ©2015 World Vision, Lindsey Minerva.

The Bible is rich in wisdom about God’s love for people living in poverty — and about our responsibility to help. We love the way Jesus showed us how to care for the poor and oppressed. Reflect on these Bible verses and pray for children, families, and communities in need. Here’s what the Bible says about poverty.

Bible verses about God’s heart for the poor

Deuteronomy 26:6-9 (NIV)

“But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Job 5:15-16 (NIV)

“He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.”

Job 34:17-19 (NIV)

“Can he who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One? Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’ who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?”

Luke 4:17-19 (NIV)

“[Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”

Luke 6:20-21 (NIV)

“Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.’”

James 2:5 (NIV)

“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Pray

Father, let World Vision’s work and that of other humanitarian groups bring the hope you desire to people living with few resources. Shut the mouth of injustice that seeks to rob families of what they need to survive. Open our eyes to the rich faith you have given to people who live in poverty. Help us learn to have servant’s hearts and live in humility and gratefulness.

Syrian refugee Mahal and her 15-month-old daughter, Khouloud, live in a tent settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Bible verses about God’s commands to care for the poor

Leviticus 19:9-10 (NIV)

“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. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.”

Deuteronomy 15:7 (ESV)

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

“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.”

Luke 12:33-34 (NIV)

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Pray

Great King, help us to cultivate the compassionate heart and attitude you require toward children and families in need. Remind us to regularly share of our bounty with people who have much less.

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Bible verses about blessings for people who serve the poor

Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV)

“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

Proverbs 22:9 (NIV)

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Luke 14:13-14 (NIV)

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Pray

Lord Jesus, help us follow you to the edges of society, where people are lonely, suffering, and in great need. Let us give freely with appreciation for all you’ve given to us at no charge.

Students, including sponsored children, pray together during a meeting of the Bible club at Itumblule Primary School in Kalawa, Kenya. Here they sing, learn Bible verses, hear the Word of God, and plant and care for fruit trees. World Vision supports 40 such Bible clubs in Kalawa schools. Over and over again this year, all over the world, I've watched children deep in prayer, completely aware of how dependent they are on God. As Jesus said in Luke 18:16, the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Students, including sponsored children, pray together during a meeting of the Bible club at Itumblule Primary School in Kalawa, Kenya. Here they sing, learn Bible verses, hear the Word of God, and plant and care for fruit trees. World Vision supports 40 such Bible clubs in Kalawa schools. Over and over again this year, all over the world, I’ve watched children deep in prayer, completely aware of how dependent they are on God. As Jesus said in Luke 18:16, the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Bible verses about God’s identification with the poor

Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Matthew 8:20 (NIV)

“Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'”

Pray

Savior, we often forget the great price you paid to bring us salvation. You became poor that we might be made rich. How thankful we are for your unspeakable gift. Grow our hearts to reflect your gracious love to others in need.

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