Poverty is a pervading issue that plague millions of people around the world. It involves a labyrinth of issues usually linked with bad economies, scant finances, and scarce resources. In 2000, world leaders resolved to eradicate all forms of poverty in the world by 2015. It was manifested in the Millennium Development Goals that many nations pledged to achieve. Targets were made and millions of dollars were funnelled through development programs aimed at lifting people out of poverty and improving their lives. Yet 2015 has come and gone and poverty is still far from being eradicated. There still remain millions of poor people even in countries considered to be wealthy.
Many of the solutions created were aimed at rehabilitating public institutions, providing opportunities, and changing poor people’s behavior. Yet these attempts failed to confront the crux of the matter. The truth is, poverty is a spiritual issue that will not be solved by money alone, or by changing leadership. While these would certainly help, poverty rests in a person’s heart because of sin. It is what causes people to be corrupt, greedy, selfish, and discontent, that, in effect hurts and makes other people to be poor. It brings torment, humiliation, degradation, and takes away one’s self-worth. Hence, spiritual poverty is the root cause of poverty in every area of a man’s life—relational, emotional, psychological, physical, and financial. So unless people and those running the institutions are spiritually rehabilitated, poverty will persist.
How is poverty a spiritual issue? When God created man, He had created beforehand all the things that man would need to survive. In Genesis 1:29, God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Therefore, God is the ultimate source of blessings. When He brought Adam into the Garden of Eden, He ensured that the garden contained all of man’s daily needs for sustenance. God also created man to have a personal relationship with Him but He gave man the free will to obey Him. When God forbade Adam to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God said man “shall surely die” (Genesis 2: 17) if he eats it. This death means separation from God, therefore being completely cut off from the source of blessings.
Man chose to disobey God and therefore sinned. Since then, Satan gained full control over man. The devil’s desires became man’s desires. John 8:44 (NIV) says, “You [man] belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” Man’s heart became defiled and a slave to wickedness. Mark 7:20-23 (NIV) says that “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malic, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” These evils are manifested in the life of a man living in poverty—relational, emotional, psychological, physical, and financial.
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