Good News for the Poor
GOD’S WORD assures us: “Not always will the poor one be forgotten.” (Psalm 9:18) The Bible also says of our Creator: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16) This hope presented in God’s Word is not just a dream. Almighty God can provide what is needed to end poverty. What do the poor need?
An African economist commented that, ideally, poor countries need a “benevolent dictator.” The implication is that to end poverty, it takes someone with power to act and kindness to care. We might add that a ruler who could end poverty for all would have to be a world ruler because extreme poverty is often the result of international inequality. In addition, a ruler who could end poverty would have to be able to do something about the reason for poverty
God sent Jesus with good news for the poor. When Jesus stood up to read the commission he received from God, he said: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor.”
What Is the Good News?
God has appointed Jesus as King. This is indeed good news. He is the ideal Ruler to end poverty because (1) he is to rule all mankind and has the power to act; (2) he acts with compassion for the poor and teaches his followers to care for them; and (3) he can eliminate the cause of poverty, our inherited tendency to act selfishly. Let us examine these three aspects of the good news.
1. Jesus’ authority over all nations God’s Word says of Jesus: “To him there were given rulership . . . that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Daniel 7:14) Can you imagine the advantages of having just one government over all mankind? No longer will there be strife and struggle over the earth’s resources. Everyone will benefit equally. Jesus himself gave the assurance that he will be a world Ruler with the power to act. He declared: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.”
2. Jesus’ compassion for the poor Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus acted with compassion for poor people. For example, a woman who had spent all her resources to pay for medical treatment touched Jesus’ garment, hoping for a cure. She had suffered a flow of blood for 12 years and was no doubt seriously anemic. According to the Law, she would cause anyone she touched to become unclean. But Jesus was kind to her. He said: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be in good health from your grievous sickness.”
Jesus’ teachings have power to change people’s heart so that they too can act compassionately. For example, consider Jesus’ answer to a man who wanted to know how to please God. The man knew that God wants us to love our neighbor, but he asked Jesus: “Who really is my neighbor?”
In reply, Jesus presented his famous illustration about a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was robbed and left “half-dead.” A priest going down that road went by on the opposite side. A Levite did the same. “But a certain Samaritan traveling the road came upon him and, at seeing him, he was moved with pity.” He cleaned the man’s wounds, took him to an inn, and paid the innkeeper to care for the injured man. “Who . . . made himself neighbor to the man that fell among the robbers?” asked Jesus. “The one that acted mercifully” was the reply. Jesus then said: “Be doing the same yourself.”
People who become Jehovah’s Witnesses study such teachings of Jesus and change their attitude about helping those in need. For example, in her book Women in Soviet Prisons, a Latvian author wrote about her illness while working at the Potma penal camp in the mid-1960’s. “All through my sickness [the Witnesses] were diligent nurses. I could not have wished for better care.” She added: “Jehovah’s Witnesses consider it their duty to help everyone, regardless of religion or nationality.”
When a financial crisis left some of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ancón, Ecuador, without work or income, their fellow Witnesses decided on a way to raise money for them; they prepared food to sell to fishermen returning from a night of fishing (pictured at right). All in the congregation cooperated, including the children. They started at one o’clock each morning so that the food would be ready when the boats came in at four o’clock. The money raised by the Witnesses was shared according to each one’s need.
Such experiences demonstrate that Jesus’ example and teachings really do have the power to change people’s attitude toward helping those in need.
3. Jesus’ power to change human nature The tendency of humans to act selfishly is a universally acknowledged fact. The Bible calls it sin. Even the apostle Paul wrote: “I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.” Then he added: “Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 7:21-25) Here Paul referred to how God, through Jesus, would rescue true worshippers from inherited sinful tendencies, one of which is selfishness, the root cause of poverty. How would this take place?
Some time after Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptizer introduced Jesus, saying: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Soon the earth will be filled with people who have been set free from inherited sin, including the tendency to seek their own interests. (Isaiah 11:9) Jesus will have eliminated the cause of poverty.
What a joy it is to contemplate the time when all will have what they need! God’s Word says: “They will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble.” (Micah 4:4) Those words poetically describe the time when all will have satisfying work, security, and full opportunity to enjoy a world without poverty, to Jehovah’s praise.