What causes poverty?

Today’s lesson: What causes poverty?

Verse of the day: The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends (Proverbs 14:20, ESV).

A frequent question from those just learning about the relationship between God and poverty is, “If God exists, and God is good, why does He allow poverty to exist?” Another similar question is:  “Why did God create poverty?”

However, by looking more closely at the issue and at the Bible’s teachings, we can soon see that God did not create poverty. Rather, poverty emerged due to the disobedience and failed relationships of mankind.

Poverty began when Adam and Eve first failed to understand that God provided all for them in the Garden of Eden, and disobeyed Him. From this point on, mankind has carried the burden of this initial sin – and we see this is in poverty.

More specifically, we look at poverty as the breakdown of a few different types of relationships. First, the relationship between man and God: when we do not see God as the solution to our problems, we cannot begin to solve them. Secondly, our social relationships: poverty emerges when we abandon our responsibilities to each other. Thirdly, our physical relationships: God gave us the task of being stewards of His physical creation, the Earth, and we must honor that task. Finally, our relationship with ourselves: we must see our own inherent worth and dignity as beings made in the image of God.

When we do not uphold these relationships, the result is poverty. This means that for the most part, poverty is not caused by a single individual. While laziness and a failure to accept God’s gifts can sometimes result in an individual choosing poverty, it is largely caused by our own sins against our fellow man. As a result, the way to combat poverty is to examine how our own sins affect others, and to understand that Christ is the only solution.

Today’s activity: Today, we’re going to play a game called Would You Rather? Would You Rather presents two statements and you have to select one option. For example…

Would you rather…
➀ Eat your favorite food for every dinner for a year?
- or -
➁ Not be able to eat your favorite food for three years?

Ask each person in your family a new Would You Rather question.

Would you rather…
➀ Walk five miles for water each morning?
- or -
➁ Walk 10 miles to school each morning?

Would you rather…
➀ Eat worms for lunch tomorrow?
- or -
➁ Eat bugs for lunch tomorrow?

Would you rather…
➀ Have to take care of your four siblings when you turn 10?
- or -
➁ Go to work at age 12 to provide for your family?

Would you rather…
➀ Eat roasted guinea pigs?
- or -
➁ Eat stewed rabbits?

Would you rather…
➀ Drink only water for the rest of your life?
- or -
➁ Drink only Coca Cola for the rest of your life?

Would you rather…
➀ Wash your clothes only once a month?
- or -
➁ Take a bath only once a month?

Would you rather…
➀ Wear the same outfit every day for six months?
- or -
➁ Play with the same toy for three years?

Would you rather…
➀ Shave your hair off your head?
- or -
➁ Never be able to cut your hair?

Would you rather…
➀ Repeat the same grade at school because you don’t have new textbooks?
- or -
➁ Not be able to go to school past sixth grade?

Would you rather…
➀ Live with your family in a very small house?
- or -
➁ Be apart from your family living in a very large, expensive mansion?

Would you rather…
➀ Eat the same vegetable every day for a year?
- or -
➁ Be sick every other week because you never eat vegetables?

Many times, kids in countries we serve have to make similar choices. They don’t have the range of choices to make as we do and many of the scenarios in our Would You Rather game are real-life decisions made in Food for the Hungry communities. Sponsoring a child is one of the best ways you can expand the choices for kids and families to make.

Today’s recipe: In 1999, I was blessed with an opportunity to visit Haiti and serve at an orphanage. We have a special affinity for the country and the people, so  we decided to make Haitian rice and beans, one of our family’s favorite meals, with today’s lesson. Enjoy our recipe for Haitian rice and beans.

Today’s prayer: God, thanks for an opportunity to have choices in our life and for the understanding the causes of poverty. We pray the decisions we make reflect you. Amen.

Related posts:

  1. Four ways poverty increases a girl's risk of sexual abuse
  2. Americans with disabilities help send children in extreme poverty to school
  3. Seven lessons to teach your kids about serving the poor
  4. A heart for giving
  5. How to Fight Poverty Half a World Away

About Jeremy Reis

Jeremy Reis is the Director of Digital Marketing for Food for the Hungry. He is the husband to Jennica and father of 6. Jeremy writes about how to disciple children into a loving and compassionate world view.

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