Really Solving the Problem of Poverty
CARMEN’S visitor was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this Witness helped her to see that she did not have to face her problems alone. None other than Jehovah God himself was concerned about her difficulties. He is described in the Bible as “raising up the lowly one from the very dust; he exalts the poor one from the ashpit itself.”—Psalm 113:7.
This was comforting for Carmen, especially when she learned how God helped the poor in times past, how he helps them today, and how he will help them in the future. If you consider this information yourself, you will understand why Carmen’s whole attitude toward life changed.
In Times Past
In the year 1513 B.C.E., when Jehovah God founded the nation of Israel, he gave them a law that lovingly made provision for the poor. First, it is noteworthy that the law did not establish an “upper” or a “lower” class. Originally, every family had an equal opportunity. But, is it not true that many today feel that class distinctions are one of the main causes of poverty?
Of course, in this imperfect world people’s situations can change. And some may fall into poverty. Such things happened in Israel too. How did the Law help then?
It did not recommend handouts. But it did recommend a spirit of generosity on the part of others. Hence, at the seasonal festivals, Israelites were urged to include “the fatherless boy and the widow” in their celebrations.—Deuteronomy 16:9-11.
If a poor man was in need of money, his fellow citizens were encouraged to lend to him whatever he needed, doing so generously and without interest. (Deuteronomy 15:7, 8; 23:19, 20) In this way, the wealthier citizen would not profit from the hardships of his brother Israelite. But, on the other hand, the poor man would feel the obligation to repay the loan.
At harvesttime, poor Israelites were allowed to glean in other people’s fields and vineyards after the harvesters had finished. They could thus work to get needed provisions for their families. If a man was deeply in debt, he could sell himself into slavery for a limited period of time. This was not so bad as it sounds. His interests were protected by law, and he could thus pay off his debts, getting security for his family while he was doing so.—Leviticus 19:9, 10; Deuteronomy 15:12-15.
God told the Israelites: “Someone poor will never cease to be in the midst of the land.” Nevertheless, the way was open for the poor to be helped to work their way out of poverty. As long as the people showed faith in God, these provisions worked. (Deuteronomy 15:11; Psalm 37:25) Does Jehovah show the same interest in poor people today? Yes, he does.
God’s Interest Today
On one occasion, Jesus was addressing a large crowd that doubtless included many poor people. He gave encouragement by reminding them of the wonderful way in which Jehovah cares for the animals and the plants. Then he drew a lesson from this that has real meaning for poor people today who wish to serve God.
He said: “If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith? So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matthew 6:30-32.
How can a poor person be sure of God’s concern for him? By putting God first in his life, as Jesus went on to say: “Keep on, then, seeking first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:33.
As Carmen did, so, too, other poor people who listen to the preaching of the “good news of the kingdom” by Jehovah’s Witnesses learn that God loves and protects all who serve him, including the poor. (Matthew 24:14) And he really does help. Apart from providing practical counsel in the Bible—such as that mentioned in the previous article—he watches over his worshipers and enables them to survive. Many have testified that he definitely responds in a literal way to the prayer: “Give us today our bread for this day.”—Matthew 6:11.
But those who listen to the “good news of the kingdom” learn an even more important lesson. Jesus said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4) Thus they learn the value of spiritual things.
Through God’s Word, the Bible, they learn how to achieve happiness within the family circle. They learn to have a close relationship with God and how to do his will for them. And they attain “the peace of God that excels all thought.” (Philippians 4:7) Most wealthy people today do not possess that peace of mind. Yet it is far more valuable than material wealth can ever be.
The person who listens to the “good news” learns something else of value too. He learns that his poor state need not be permanent.
The Answer to the Problem
Poverty can result from an unequal economic system. It can also be the result of war, famine, disease, racial or social prejudices, “time and unforeseen occurrence,” or just human imperfection. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) No wonder men have been unable to abolish it!
However, Christians are preaching everywhere today the “good news of the kingdom.” This is the good news that the kingdom of God has been established in the heavens and shortly will take over all the rulership of this earth. Christians have prayed for this for centuries when they have said: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
This kingdom will be a world government. It will abolish unequal economic systems. Racial and social prejudices will have no place there, since the overriding law of that government will be the law of love, including the command: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Matthew 22:39.
Moreover, war will no longer bring poverty to mankind, since God will make “wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.” (Psalm 46:9) Even sickness and human imperfection will eventually be no more, because “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Then, poor people will have the opportunity to work their way permanently out of poverty, and this long-standing burden will finally be removed from mankind.
Content to Wait
Can you understand why someone like Carmen would have a completely different view of life after she heard such “good news”? Here is a message that not only sounds good but is true. The evidence is overwhelming that God’s kingdom will do all the things God says it will. No wonder that another woman with many children, who became a refugee because of terrorist activity, was moved to say: “We are content with our [poor] condition because of the richness of our spiritual life. Yes, godly devotion with contentment is great gain”!—See 1 Timothy 6:6-8.
Many humble persons, having considered God’s solution to the problem of poverty, are happy to wait for his due time to remove this burden completely. In the meantime they associate with people of similar faith and take every opportunity to share their beliefs with others. Thus they enjoy spiritual riches in spite of material poverty.
Is world poverty a problem that troubles you? If so, why not look into the same information that has helped Carmen and millions of others. Then you, too, will have the opportunity to see the time when poverty will be with us no more.
“Happy is the one . . . whose hope is in Jehovah his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, of the sea, and of all that is in them, the One keeping trueness to time indefinite, the One executing judgment for the defrauded ones, the One giving bread to the hungry ones. . . . Jehovah is opening the eyes of the blind ones; Jehovah is raising up the ones bowed down.”—Psalm 146:5-8.
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God’s kingdom will forever remove the conditions that cause poverty
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If God feeds the birds, will he not also provide food for humans who serve him?