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.

We love the way Jesus showed us how to care for the poor and oppressed. See what the Bible has to say about God’s heart for people living in poverty.

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 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?”

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

Bible verses with God’s instructions 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.”

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.”

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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.”

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.”

A young boy looks in at the Children's and Youth Club in Cambodia. © 2015 World Vision, Laura Reinhardt
A young boy looks in at the Children’s and Youth Club in Cambodia. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

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.'”

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