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Is it a Sin to be Poor?

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Date Created:07 Jan 2015

Last Modified:07 Jan 2015

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Once I attended a church service where we were taught that poverty is a sin and as Children of God we are supposed to be rich because our God is rich.

This made me feel worthless because I could not exactly describe myself as rich.I was a struggling student. I had no money. I was broke. I was poor.

To make matters worse, we were encourage to give our best in terms of money. Not coins that jingle, no; but money that is silent--Large notes like K20, K50 or even K100. Money, we were taught, is a seed. When we give, we are sowing a seed. Our blessings would depend on how much we sow. The bigger the seed, the bigger the blessing.

This sent me into thinking there was something odd here; something a little off. The emphasis on money sent off an alarm in my soul and I had to investigate a little.

Being Poor is not a Sin

Firstly, I thought of how it could be a sin to be poor. I thought through it, reviewed scriptures that I knew touched on the issue of being poor and reached a totally different conclusion: being poor is not a sin.

I recalled the poor widow who contributed only two coins to the house of God as opposed to the rest who gave a lot because they had more than enough. Jesus actually described that poor widow as having given more than everyone else because she gave all she had.(Mark 12:43)

Jesus did not say the widow was a sinner because she was broke. He did not equate righteousness to riches; rather, he focused on the heart and praised her because she did all that she could in her circumstances; and despite being rich, the others did not leave much of an impression because they gave out of their surplus.

Another noteworthy person was Paul. Paul is a good example of a Christian, so good that he could actually say, 'imitate me even as I have imitated the Lord' (1 Corinthians 11:1). Was he rich? Not really.

Paul actually said he knew both worlds, how it is like to be rich and how it is like to be poor:

"I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." --Philipians 4:12 (New American Standard Version)

Therefore, Paul had a share of poverty: he was poor at certain points in his ministry. But that does not discredit him. It does not mean he was less of an apostle.

And now let's talk of Jesus himself--the very epitome of Christianity. Was he rich? Far from it it seems.

Look at what Jesus said at Luke 9:58: " And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (KJV)

While this was not necessarily mean Jesus was poor, it does shows us that acquiring wealth was not on his to do list. He definitely did not see the need to acquire a mansion. His life style was quite nomadic, moving from place to place spreading the gospel.

In fact, Jesus discouraged the accumulation of wealth because it is a distraction from the work of God. He said: "In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"--Mark 10:25

If being poor was a sin, Jesus would not have said what he did in the scripture cited above.

Money is not the Seed

When it comes to the issue of money being a seed, that assertion does not seem to have much support, if any in the Bible.

Jesus gave a parable of a sower who was sowing seed. Read it for yourself at Mathew 13:1-23. He explains that the seed is the word of God; and that when it falls on the right kind of soil, it will bear fruit. This fruit is definitely the fruit of the Spirit and not wealth (Galatians 5:22-23).

Granted, God expects us and encourages us to give, and even promises that by the same measure that we give, shall we receive. (Luke 6:38)But at the same time, he warns us not to focus on riches because they are temporary.

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." --1 Timothy 6:17-19 (English Standard Version)

So all this said, my conclusion is being poor is not a sin. But like Solomon said, being too rich or too poor, can lead us to sin.(Proverbs 30:8)


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