Breaking Poverty – We all want to help the poor. It’s a Biblical mandate that strikes close to home. We’ve all been in situations where we needed someone else’s encouragement and help to make it. Bearing one another’s burdens is a real expression of love. Kings should lead the way in breaking poverty off of people. We shouldn’t wait for the government to do it or fund it.
The balance to that view is that giving money doesn’t break poverty. For most, poverty is typically one fruit of a life without stewardship. It’s not an identity. In fact, referring to people as “the poor” is the economic equivalent to a racist remark. There are times when the cruelest, most ungracious thing we can do is to reinforce a welfare mindset with money. People are robbed of their self-respect and end up resenting the giver. People in poverty are there temporarily until they can be shown how to help themselves. We are all called to be Kings and we simply need to be motivated to sow a lifestyle that produces prosperity.
And my God will meet all your (my) needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19 NIV
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed. Ps 37:25-26 NIV
Roots of Entitlement – Wanting what we don’t yet have can be a source of motivation or resentment depending on our beliefs, attitudes, and responses. “Entitlement” is a prison that keeps God’s people in poverty. Where does it come from? What can we do to break the cycle?
I want to suggest that part of the entitlement mentality has indirect roots in our theology. We need a balance between wisdom and revelation; a balance between what we expect from God and what we take responsibility for ourselves.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… Eph 1:17-18 NIV
Balance – As a pastor in the prophetic / charismatic stream, I emphasized relating to God through revelation. Listen to the language of revelation and the language of the wisdom of Proverbs and hear the contrast.
Revelation – prophetic, intercession, healing, divine appointments, dreams, breakthrough, miracles, miraculous provision, anointing, God’s presence, angelic visitation, revival.
Wisdom – character, education, experience, competence, understanding, mentors, work, heart’s desires, responsible, planning, discipline, budgets, creative, entrepreneurial, wealth.
My congregation came to church to experience the presence of God. I and they were far less interested in learning how to write a business plan, and we had no concept of learning to multiply finances. I’m not implying the importance of one over the other – we need both wisdom and revelation. I just want to point to the fact that our equipping in church emphasizes one, and when we get into the marketplace we walk with a limp because we typically undervalue wisdom. Failures in the marketplace are not for lack of intercession; they are typically the natural result of what we sow; incompetence – and the lack everything else on the wisdom list.
Our present station in life is simply the sum of our beliefs, attitudes and actions. The good news is that change is possible “if” I’m willing to sow different beliefs, attitudes and actions.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Gal 6:7-8 NASU
They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; Prov 1:31-32 NIV
Entitlement and Passivity – Look again at the list of words for revelation. They are all things God does! In fact, as believers, we are “entitled” to access God’s presence and everything on the list. Should we pursue them? Certainly! We should be “God chasers.” Revelation makes us great preachers. However, if you want to be a King, overcome poverty, and inherit your ministry and vocation… you have to add wisdom to your portfolio and overcome the passive attitudes that produce poverty.
Please hear this. We need both. Wisdom without revelation is dry and lonely. Revelation without wisdom is broke, preachy, and self-righteous.
Politics – There is raging debate in the US right now about the cost of welfare, Medicare, child care, health care. We should personally care for people – not just wait for the government to do it. But, our goal must be to teach them to care for themselves and to eventually join the ranks of those who help others out of poverty… theologically, socially, emotionally, politically, and financially.
Perpetually giving money to people who refuse to work is a form of religious and political codependency. I understand secular politicians seeking to buy a voting bloc with promises funded with someone else’s money, increased debt and higher taxes. I don’t understand the cruelty of labeling “the poor” and leaving them in captivity… a prison cell called “entitlement.”
Freedom from that prison cell isn’t just having enough to eat. It’s having a dream that motivates the work required to own a home, a car, an education, a blessed family, a vocation that expresses ministry, enough wealth to be generous, and a vision to bless the nations and be a King. Self-respect, based on our identity in Jesus, is liberating… and motivating.