Thinking Wisely About Poverty
Teacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: An Invitation to Wisdom: Proverbs 1-9
Proverbs 30:8-10; 22:1-2; 28:6; 19:17; 28:27; 21:13; 17:5 (ESV)
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.
2 The rich and the poor meet together;
the Lord is the Maker of them all.
6 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed.
27 Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.
5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
Reverence for God will change your values and form you to be one who is a friend to the poor.
1. Reverence and integrity
30:8-10 “give me neither poverty nor riches”
22:1-2 “the Lord is the maker of them all”
28:6 “better is a poor man who walks with integrity”
2. Reverence and generosity
19:17 “”whoever is generous… lends to the Lord”
28:27 “whoever gives to the poor…”
21:13 “whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor…”
17:5 “insults his maker”
a. caring for one another
b. living justly
c. intentional relationships
d. organizational support
e. engaging for change
Questions for Reflection
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. How will reverence for God change how you think? Consider specific examples.
What are ways the rich are tempted to deny God? What are ways the poor are tempted to profane the name of the Lord? Are there temptations that are particular to people in distinct economic categories? If not, how do you think about this?
What are some things that are more important to have than money?
God is the creator of all human beings. How should this direct how you think about and treat others?
In what ways do we judge the poor, and why? What are some of the excuses we make for the opinions we hold? What are some of the deeper problems we have (reasons for our judgment)?
Why is integrity more valuable than gold? How do you get integrity?
What are reasons we avoid seeing the poor or hearing their cries? What character traits do you need to be able to look and hear? Does seeing and hearing mean you have to respond? If so, what are honorable ways to respond (think of particular situations where you are tempted to ignore people in need)?
Should a Christian give to pan-handlers (people on the street or in the subway who ask for money)? Why or why not? What are some principles to help you understand your options so your actions honor God?
Do you believe you are spiritually poor? What is the significance of the claim that Jesus paid a debt for us when he suffered on the cross, for how we think about people in the world who have great needs?
What are ways that you can view your own generosity as acts of worship? How can giving to others be a means of giving to God?
Prayer of Confession
Father God, you have made us and given us all things. We have loved the things you have made, but not all of the people you have made. We confess our pride and arrogance towards the poor. We confess we have closed our eyes and ears. We understand that we have insulted you, who have made all people, in how we have judged and disregarded the suffering. We acknowledge our own poverty, and pray for your generosity and mercy to us. Thank you for giving us what we don’t deserve, and for sending Jesus to pay a debt of sin we can never repay. Make us wise so that in revering you, we will walk with integrity. Amen.