What does the gospel have to do with poverty?

Quite a bit.

Especially for those of us in the West, it’s tempting to look at poverty strictly in material or circumstantial terms.

“If these people just had enough food,” we think. “If that child could just get an education; if this family could just have access to basic medicine, then everything would be fine.”

These are all serious issues. Children and families living in poverty do need access to sufficient food, education, medicine – the essentials of life.

But there’s more to poverty than material concerns.

child reading

As we read the Scriptures, we see that behind all the devastation poverty brings, there is something else at work. There’s a spiritual condition that frustrates and undermines our best efforts to change our own circumstances.

The Bible calls it a curse.

The gospel deals with the root Poverty—sin—from which all other poverty flows. Because poverty at its most basic level is a spiritual issue, then there is an eternal solution.

The spiritual nature of poverty

The opening chapters of the Bible show a world in which everything is perfect, one God declares “very good” (Gen. 1:31). God, humanity and the rest of creation live in perfect harmony.

It was a world in which poverty could not exist.

That is, until the Fall. When Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, they set in motion events that would turn God’s good creation, one in which poverty could not exist, into one where poverty was now the default setting.

Where there was once harmony between God, humanity and creation, there was now discord. Where once the ground produced fruit in abundance with ease, now man would toil to scrape out even a meager existence. Economic prosperity would be elusive (Gen. 3:16-19).

children singing and clapping

Because of one man’s sin, all of humanity came under a curse. Whether war or corruption, floods or earthquakes, poor crop yields or total economic collapse, every hardship we see or experience goes back to the curse.

The promise of an eternal solution to poverty

While that might seem gloomy, there is good news. Jesus came to set people free from this curse.

This doesn’t mean God promises that those who come to faith in Jesus will have health and wealth. The effects of sin and the curse remain at work in our fallen world.

children singing

But it does mean that if poverty at its most basic level is a spiritual issue—the result of sin—then there is an eternal solution.

There is a day when poverty will finally and fully end. A day when Jesus will return to bring about the new creation. He will wipe away every tear and God’s people will spend eternity with Him (Rev. 21:1-4).

It doesn’t mean we stop trying to improve the here and now. But this is the hope we look forward to. This is the hope that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children through Compassion’s ministry. Today they serve their communities and nations, in whatever circumstances God has placed them, fueled by the promise of the new creation to come.

The gospel deals with the root Poverty—sin—from which all other poverty flows.

To truly release children from poverty, we believe we must care for their physical needs (James 2:14-16)—and we must share the only message that offers the forgiveness of our sins, freedom from the curse, and reconciliation with our Creator.