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On Poverty

Poverty is a big problem. But the main problem I have with the poverty agenda - the focus on poverty - is that Jesus clearly said "Do not seek these things; your Heavenly Father knows you need them" and "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth; store up treasures in heaven." He himself was poor, yet was filled with joy, and achieved more than any other human being.

This is the case even though Jesus promised "Blessed are the poor; theirs is the kingdom of heaven." God is revealed as the protector of the poor.

In saying these, Jesus was not talking only to the rich - though he did use examples of the foolishness of rich people in his teaching - he was speaking to ordinary people, who were themselves feeling what we today call poverty. He said to them "Do not store up for yourselves ... your Heavenly Father knows you need these things." Paul also understood this, "Having food and clothing, let us be content."

What then is the problem? Is it inequality of wealth? Is it unfairness? Do we need to redistribute? I used to think so, but cannot do so because Jesus seemed to exonerate the employer who gave all workers the same amount of money whether they have worked a full day or only one hour. And the king who gave different amounts of money to different servants when he absented himself.

What then is the problem? The problem is injustice, not inequality. Inequality is a quantitative measure; injustice is fundamental. Justice and righteousness are both the same in both parts of the Bible (tsedeq in Hebrew, dikiasune in Greek), and the best definition I have found for justice is "right relationships among all things in the Created order." See page on Tsedeq.

Poverty is of many kinds, and I understand that "poor" in the Bible refers to all kinds together, not just lack of money. I employ Dooyeweerd's aspects to help me understand them:

Notice how some affect others.

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