Top 10 Bible Verses about Poverty and Hunger
December 13, 2013
10. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
"The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
No, poverty and hunger are not specifically mentioned. But Paul is making the case for his collection for the saints in Jerusalem, which turns out to be a pretty big deal.
9. 2 Thessalonians 3:10
"For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat."
This one makes the list because it makes for an easy sound bite that can be taken out of context. It is directed to those who have stopped contributing to community life because they think "the day of the Lord" is eminent. They were probably as motivating as this guy.
8. Psalm 146:5-7
"Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry."
7. Luke 4:16-21 (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Jesus, quoting Isaiah: "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.…'" (Lk.4:18-19)
So popular it'll get you run out of town.
6. Luke 6:30-32/Matthew 5:42-43
"Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. 'If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them."
I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis' words:
"Another thing that annoys me is when people say, 'Why did you give that man money? He'll probably go and drink it.' My reply is, 'But if I'd kept [it] I should probably have drunk it.'"
5. 1 John 3:17-18
"How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."
4. Deuteronomy 15:10-11
"Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, 'Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.'" (Deut.15:11)
Jesus echoes "you will always have the poor with you" in Mark 14:7. But, like here, that doesn't look like we're just supposed to live with it and move on. It's probably more of a critique, as in: considering the way you treat one another, of course you'll always have the poor with you.
3. James 2:15-17
"If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill', and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
Words are sufficient any number of times, but not in this situation (or ones like it). This is similar to #5 on the list, but questions the presence of faith rather than the presence of God's love in the believer.
2. Isaiah 58:6-11
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?" (Is.6-7)
A good way to one-up all fasts anyone else could ever come up with.
1. Matthew 25:35,40
"… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink"
1. Luke 6:20-21, 24-25
"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled… But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry."
In Matthew this shows up toward the end of Jesus' ministry and is more about obedience. Luke presents it earlier in Jesus' ministry in a format similar to the beatitudes (which, for one reason or another, the audience may have had a difficult time hearing).
Henry Martinez is an Education Associate for ELCA World Hunger.