What Hope for the Poor?
THERE is nothing wrong with working hard for a living, as long as those who work hard receive a proper wage. Notice the comments of a Bible writer: “I have come to know that there is nothing better . . . than to rejoice . . . and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.”—Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13.
But as we have seen, the world economic system demands hard labor but often gives workers an inadequate reward. Many remain poor, struggling to survive from day to day. Rarely do they feel inclined to “rejoice” and “see good” because of the life they lead. The wealth of the world has reached remarkable levels, but perhaps half of humanity is left out when it comes to sharing all that bounty.
God’s Interest in the Poor
Mankind’s Creator, Jehovah God, is not pleased with this situation. Jehovah views the poor with compassion. We read in the Bible: “[God] is sure not to forget the outcry of the afflicted ones.” (Psalm 9:12) Jehovah is a God who cares about the poor.
Regarding Jehovah, the Bible says: “To you the unfortunate one, the fatherless boy, commits himself. You yourself have become his helper.” (Psalm 10:14) Notice how this Bible verse refers to afflicted people as individuals.* Yes, God looks at each one and considers his or her needs. To him each person is precious and worthy of attention. Jehovah invites people from all economic levels to learn from him and enjoy his friendship.
One thing people learn from God is to show compassion and fellow-feeling for others. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves a large spiritual family. They value one another as individuals—among them true Christian love flourishes. The Lord Jesus Christ once told his followers: “All you are brothers.” (Matthew 23:8) Thus, all who take up true worship become part of a brotherhood that does not discriminate on the basis of wealth. They care for one another and build one another up in times of trouble.
The Bible contains principles that can mitigate the effects of poverty. The Scriptures show that God condemns polluting the body—as by the use of tobacco—and abusing alcohol. (Proverbs 20:1; 2 Corinthians 7:1) The person living by those principles saves money that would otherwise be wasted on harmful habits. He avoids illness caused by smoking and drunkenness and the subsequent expense of medical treatment. The Bible also teaches people to reject materialistic thinking and greed. (Mark 4:19; Ephesians 5:3) By respecting God’s Word in these matters, a person also avoids wasting his money on gambling.
The Bible provides principles for daily living that are practical, even amid severe poverty. Note the following experience:
In a land with high unemployment, a factory worker put her job at risk by asking for time off to attend Christian meetings. Her supervisor could easily have fired her. Instead, he surprised her and the other employees by granting her request. Moreover, the supervisor told her that he wanted her to continue working at his factory and praised her as “an exemplary worker.” Why?
That worker, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, lived according to Bible principles. Wishing to ‘conduct herself honestly in all things,’ she did not lie or steal and thus built up a reputation for honesty. (Hebrews 13:18) In obedience to the inspired principle found at Colossians 3:22, 23, she carried out her work “whole-souled.” This means that she obeyed her employer and was careful to give a full day’s work for each day she was paid.
Of course, we live amid an economic system in which selfishness rules and profits are all-important. Some who deeply respect Bible principles may still have to struggle to acquire the food, clothing, and shelter they need. But such ones have a clean conscience before their Creator and look forward with confidence to better times ahead, thanks to Jehovah, “the God who gives hope.”—Romans 15:13.
A Permanent Solution to Poverty
The Bible reveals the strong feelings Jehovah has against those who promote the unfair oppression of the poor. God’s inspired Word says: “Woe to those who are enacting harmful regulations and those who, constantly writing, have written out sheer trouble, in order to push away the lowly ones from a legal case and to wrest away justice from the afflicted ones . . . , for the widows to become their spoil, and that they may plunder even the fatherless boys!” (Isaiah 10:1, 2) Whether they willingly neglect the poor or they do so in ignorance, those who control the economic workings of human society today are part of an oppressive system that Almighty God is going to replace.
The prophet Isaiah asks such oppressors a serious question: “What will you men do at the day of being given attention and at the ruin, when it comes from far away?” (Isaiah 10:3) Jehovah will put them out of business by destroying the unjust system that they perpetuate.
But God’s purpose includes more than taking action against oppressors. He will give righthearted humans a way of life free of injustice. By means of a superior form of government, he will allow all humans to lead satisfying, joyful lives free of poverty. To prosper at that time, you will not need a large inheritance of money, good connections, or business acumen. How can we be sure that such changes will take place?
Jesus Christ, the one Jehovah has appointed to rule mankind, referred to that wonderful future as the “re-creation.” (Matthew 19:28) This word carries the idea of a renewal, a new start of human life. By using the term “re-creation,” Jesus emphasized that Jehovah will give righteous humans an opportunity to live life as our loving Creator wills. Among the many benefits he will bring to mankind at that time is the permanent removal of the economic load that weighs so many down.
The Bible prophetically states regarding the rule of Jesus Christ: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.”—Psalm 72:12-14.
This beautiful future is open to you. But for you to meet God’s requirements for life in that new world, it is vital that you first learn and then do the will of the true God. Make wise decisions based on knowledge of God’s Word. Live in expectation of the wonderful future God holds out to all mankind. You will not be disappointed. God’s Word promises: “Not always will the poor one be forgotten, nor will the hope of the meek ones ever perish.”—Psalm 9:18.
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A beautiful future is open to you
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Should I Move to Where Things Are Better?
God’s Word does not tell people where they are to live and work. Bible principles, however, can help a person determine whether moving to another country for economic reasons is advisable. Note the following questions and the Scriptural principles that apply.
1. Am I being led on by unfounded rumors? Proverbs 14:15 states: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” After he moved to a wealthy country, a man from Eastern Europe said: “I heard that here money grows like leaves on trees. I am still looking for those trees.”
2. Do I have a balanced view of my family’s needs? Am I confusing needs with unrealistic desires? Family heads are obligated to provide materially for their wife and children. (1 Timothy 5:8) But fathers are also responsible to God for educating their children morally and spiritually. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Ephesians 6:4) A father may be able to provide more in a material sense if he moves away. But he cannot provide the moral and spiritual training his children need if he does not see them for weeks, months, or years at a time.
3. Do I realize that a prolonged absence from my wife exposes the two of us to adultery? God’s Word warns married couples to consider the sexual needs of each other.—1 Corinthians 7:5.
4. Do I understand that entering a country illegally can bring serious consequences from the ruling authorities? True Christians are obliged to obey the laws of the land.—Romans 13:1-7.
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Bible principles are practical whether we are rich or poor
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