In 2015 the World Bank estimated that 702.1 million people were living in extreme poverty, down from 1.75 billion in 1990: about 347.1 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa and 231.3 million in South Asia. In 2012 it was estimated that, using a poverty line of $1.25 a day, 1.2 billion people lived in poverty. UNICEF estimates half the world’s children (or 1.1 billion) live in poverty. Another estimate places the true scale of poverty much higher than the World Bank, with an estimated 4.3 billion people (59% of the world’s population) living with less than $5 a day and unable to meet basic needs adequately.
Matthew 25 41 ‘Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison and you did not look after me.”
44 ‘They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or ill or in prison, and did not help you?”
45 ‘He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
46 ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’
James 2 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Deuteronomy 15 7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards them. 8 Rather, be open-handed and freely lend them whatever they need. …. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
TO THINK ABOUT
1. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 15:11 in John 12:8 “You will always have the poor among you?” Does this imply that poverty is inevitable and therefore in some way or to some extent Christians are relieved of an obligation to relieve poverty wherever they can?
2. Jesus said in Matthew 25:45 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” James 2:15 says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.” Are Christians obliged to help everybody who is poor, or only other Christians?
3. How does the challenge of poverty affect the total amount of our income which we keep compared to the amount we give away? Should we only give to Christian charities?
4. How does the challenge of global poverty influence our priorities in our giving when it comes to supporting local/UK charities or overseas charities?
5. How does the challenge of poverty affect how much we spend on ourselves? e.g. on housing, transport and travel, food and drink, clothes, holidays and special treats, communication, entertainment, technology, any other large items or regular spending?