The economic troubles have created a rise in those now facing poverty. I have had the unique opportunity to see this first hand, not only as one helping to assist those in poverty. Due to the downfall of the housing industry, I too am facing what most would call poverty level. I used to look at poverty as the lack of money and the lack of material necessities. Having now experienced a form of poverty first hand, I am beginning to view it with a different perspective.
I am the director of a local feeding ministry at my church. We have an emergency food pantry, and on Fridays we serve a free meal to anyone who desires to feast at our tables. It has been with both humility and fascination as I have heard the stories and witnessed how people survive day to day with very little of the basic necessities. I can’t help but become amazed as I have learned of the resourcefulness of those who have lived in poverty for a length of time. I also can’t help but be amazed as to how these people seem to band together and work together to assist each other in their day to day lives. It has caused me to look closer at the definition of poverty.
There are nearly 2000 references in the Bible dealing directly with poverty. There are very explicit commandments given in the Scriptures as to how those following Christ are to deal with poverty. It isn’t my intent to present those commandments here. I want to present another definition of poverty as I have come to define it. Poverty is much more than the lack of money or not having the material necessities to live comfortably from day to day. I feel it can best be defined as not living one’s life as God intended one to live. Such a definition leads us into another realm when one speaks of poverty. It will also cause a change in vision when one assists those dealing with material poverty.
I have examined my life much closer with this view of poverty. I can easily see where I have taken so many things for granted. So many things, material wants for lack of better terminology, seem to matter much less now. I have learned to rethink the items I feel are daily necessities. I have warm shelter. I have good, healthy food. I am surrounded by a family who loves me. And I have been blessed to develop many friendships with those I have been able to assist in whatever means I can. My heart bleeds for those whose lives have been so seriously impacted by economics and disaster. I have witnessed the Spirit of Christ in the actions of those we deem to be poor. Maybe they’re not as poor as we think them to be.