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ARE THE POOR RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN POVERTY? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 13 February 2012

ARE THE POOR RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN POVERTY?

A Bible Study on Economic Justice for Small Discussion Groups

By Jim Jordal

READ ALOUD THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES:

I Thess. 2:9:  For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail; for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached to you the Good News of God.

II Thess. 3:8-11: … neither did we eat bread from anyone's hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you; not because we don't have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: "If anyone will not work, neither let him eat." For we hear of some who walk among you in rebellion, who don't work at all, but are busybodies.

Prov. 6:6-11:   Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider her ways, and be wise; Which having no chief, overseer, or ruler, Provides her bread in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you sleep, sluggard? When will you arise out of your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep: So your poverty will come as a robber, And your scarcity as an armed man.

Prov. 10:4-5:   He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, But the hand of the diligent brings wealth.

He who gathers in summer is a wise son, But he who sleeps during the harvest is a son who causes shame.

Prov. 12:11: He who tills his land shall have plenty of bread, But he who chases fantasies is void of understanding.

Prov. 12:24: The hands of the diligent ones shall rule, But laziness ends in slave labor.

Prov. 13:4:  The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing, But the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied.

Prov. 13:7:  There are some who pretend to be rich, yet have nothing. There are some who pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth.

Prov. 13:23:  An abundance of food is in poor people's fields, But injustice sweeps it away.

Prov. 20:13: Don't love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you shall be satisfied with bread.

Prov. 21:17:  He who loves pleasure shall be a poor man: He who loves wine and oil shall not be rich.

Prov. 21:25: The desire of the sluggard kills him, For his hands refuse to labor.

Prov. 22:16: "Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, Both come to poverty"

Prov. 23:21: " For the drunkard and the glutton shall become poor; And drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Prov. 24:30-34: I went by the field of the sluggard, By the vineyard of the man void of understanding; Behold, it was all grown over with thorns. Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw, and considered well. I saw, and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep; So shall your poverty come as a robber, And your want as an armed man.

Prov. 28:19: One who works his land will have an abundance of food; But one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty"

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

  1. List some of the reasons given above why people are poor:

a.________________________________________________________________________________

b.________________________________________________________________________________

c.________________________________________________________________________________

d.________________________________________________________________________________

e.________________________________________________________________________________

2. What personal behaviors other than those mentioned can lead to poverty?

  1. What disabilities other than poverty can result from these negative behaviors?
  2. a.________________________________________________________________________________

    b.________________________________________________________________________________

    c.________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Are people who are poor in this manner also poor in spirit? How do you know?
  4. Are there any qualitative differences you can think of between people who are poor because of their own personal failings and those made poor by oppression and injustice?
  5. Is it personal failings that create poverty, or is it systemic and structural injustice, or both? To what extent do you lean toward one or the other?

PRINCIPLES FOR CONSIDERATION:

  1. Personal failings and dysfunctions do result in poverty.
  2. The vast majority of Scriptures, however, support societal factors as the chief causes of poverty.
  3. Social injustice and economic oppression of the suffering many by the fortunate few, and their deliverance by Jesus Christ, constitute the major theme of Scripture.

The church needs to model and advocate against both negative and counterproductive personal behaviors and the structures and systems of societal oppression and injustic