Poverty—Finding the Permanent Solution
IN SPITE of negative reports from around the world about poverty, there are those who remain optimistic that something concrete can be done. For example, according to a headline in the Manila Bulletin, the Asian Development Bank reported that “Asia can eradicate poverty in 25 years.” The bank recommended economic growth as a way to pull people from the depths of poverty.
Other organizations and governments have put forth a long list of suggestions and plans to try to solve the problem. Among them are: social insurance programs, improved education, canceling debts developing nations owe to industrialized nations, removing import barriers so that nations with a large percentage of poor people can sell their products more easily, and low-income housing for the poor.
In the year 2000, the United Nations General Assembly set goals to be achieved by 2015. These included the eliminating of extreme poverty and hunger as well as gross inequality of income within countries. However noble such goals may be, many doubt that they can be achieved in this disunited world.
Practical Steps to Deal With Poverty
Since hope for real progress on a worldwide scale is slim, where can a person turn for help? As mentioned earlier, there is a source of practical wisdom that can help people right now. What is it? It is God’s Word, the Bible.
What makes the Bible different from all other sources of information? It comes from the highest authority, our Creator. He has included in its pages gems of wisdom—practical principles that are applicable to all people, in all places, and at all times. If followed, these principles can help the poor to enjoy a more satisfying life even now. Let us look at a few examples.
Have a proper view of money. The Bible says: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) What is the point? Money is not everything. True, it provides a measure of security. It enables us to buy certain things we need, but it has its limitations. There are things of greater value that money cannot buy. Recognition of this fact will help us keep material things in proper perspective, thus avoiding the frustrations of those whose lives center on the accumulation of money. Money cannot buy life, but acting in wisdom can protect life now and can even open up the possibility of endless life.
Live within your means. Our wants are not necessarily the same as our needs. Priority should be given to our needs. We can easily convince ourselves that we need something, when in reality it is a want and not a need. The wise person will first allot earned income to immediate needs—food, clothing, shelter, and so on. Then, before spending on anything extra, he will determine if his remaining funds can cover additional items. In one of his illustrations, Jesus recommended that a person “first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough.”—Luke 14:28.
In the Philippines, Eufrosina, a single parent with three children, has had the challenge of earning a living and following a strict budget since her husband left her some years ago. While doing so, she has trained her children to recognize priorities in the budget. For example, the children may see something that they would like. Instead of just saying no, she reasons with them by saying: “Well, you can have that if you like, but you will have to decide. We have enough money for only one thing. We can buy this thing that you like, or we can buy a little meat or vegetables to go along with our rice for this week. Now, which would you like? You decide.” Usually, the children quickly see the point and agree that they would like to have food rather than something else.
Be content. “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things,” states another Bible principle. (1 Timothy 6:8) Money in itself does not bring happiness. A lot of wealthy people are unhappy, while many poor people are very happy. These latter ones have learned to be satisfied with just the simple things needed in life. Jesus spoke of having a ‘simple eye’ that is focused on the more important things. (Matthew 6:22) This helps a person to be content. Many poor people feel quite satisfied because they have cultivated a good relationship with God and have a happy family life—things that cannot be purchased with money.
These are just a few examples of the Bible’s practical suggestions that can help those who are poor to cope with their situation. There are many more. For instance, avoid such vices as smoking and gambling, which waste resources; identify the more important things in life, particularly spiritual goals; where employment is limited, try to provide a skill or service that others need. (Proverbs 22:29; 23:21; Philippians 1:9-11) The Bible recommends application of such “practical wisdom and thinking ability” because “they will prove to be life to your soul.”—Proverbs 3:21, 22.
While the Bible’s suggestions may provide some helpful relief to those wrestling with poverty, questions about the future still remain. Are the poor doomed to stay in the clutches of poverty forever? Will the inequalities between the very wealthy and the extremely poor ever be rectified? Let us examine a solution that many are not aware of.
The Bible Gives Reason for Hope
Many admit that the Bible is a good book. However, they are often unaware that it offers specific information that points to big changes soon to take place.
God intends to take action to solve mankind’s problems, including poverty. Since human governments have proved to be either unable or unwilling to do so, God intends to replace them. How? The Bible states emphatically at Daniel 2:44: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
Having removed these “kingdoms,” or governments, God’s own appointed Ruler will act. That Ruler is not a human but a powerful heavenly being like God himself, possessing the ability to make the drastic changes needed to eliminate the present inequalities. God has selected his own Son to do this. (Acts 17:31) Psalm 72:12-14 describes what this Ruler will do, stating: “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.” What a wonderful prospect! Relief at last! God’s appointed Ruler will act in behalf of the poor and the lowly.
So many problems associated with poverty will be solved at that time. Verse 16 of Psalm 72 says: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.” No more will there be food shortages as a result of famine, lack of money, or faulty administration.
Other problems will be solved too. For example, today a large percentage of earth’s inhabitants cannot claim a home of their own. However, God promises: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.” (Isaiah 65:21, 22) Everyone will have his own home and enjoy his work. So God is promising a total and permanent solution to poverty. There will be no more huge gaps between rich and poor, no more people just barely eking out an existence.
Upon first hearing these Bible promises, one may feel that it is not realistic. However, a closer examination of the Bible shows that all of God’s promises in the past have come true. (Isaiah 55:11) So it is not a matter of if it will happen. Rather, the real question is, What must you do to benefit when it happens?
Will You Be There?
Since the government is God’s, we must be the type of people whom God will accept as citizens under that rulership. He has not left us in the dark as to how to qualify. The guidelines are laid out in the Bible.
The appointed Ruler, God’s Son, is righteous. (Isaiah 11:3-5) Thus, those accepted for life under this government will also be expected to be righteous. Proverbs 2:21, 22 says: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”
Is there any way to learn how to meet these requirements? Yes, there is. By studying the Bible and applying its directions, you can put yourself in line for this marvelous future. (John 17:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to help you with that study. We invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to be included in a society that will never experience poverty and injustice.
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Eufrosina: “A strict budget helps my family to have what they need”
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A good relationship with God and a happy family life cannot be bought with money