What the Bible Says About Poverty

In the Bible, God speaks often of the poor and needy. He commands us to give generously to the less fortunate and to speak up on their behalf.

To help you connect with God’s heart for the poor, we have compiled this list of Bible verses taken from the New International Version that speak to how God asks us to relate to and serve the less fortunate among us.

What God Says About Giving to the Poor

The Bible tells us that generosity yields an amazing crop! When we refresh others through giving, we are refreshed ourselves. As Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

When we study what God says about giving to the poor, we can see His heart and understand the important responsibility God has given to us.

  • Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you"—when you already have it with you. — Proverbs 3:27-28
  • Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. — Proverbs 28:27
  • Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
  • Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
  • If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. — Isaiah 58:6-11
  • Give generously to [the poor] and do so without a grudging heart, then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. — Deuteronomy 15:10-11
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What Does God Say About Helping the Poor?

God’s Word is clear that we are called to help the poor. It may be a simple encouraging word, a smile or an act of kindness. Or maybe God may call you to take up the cause of the needy by defending their rights.

  • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. — Proverbs 31:8-9
  • Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. — Proverbs 22:22-23
  • Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. — Isaiah 1:17
  • Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? — Isaiah 10:1-3
  • It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy. — Proverbs 14:21
  • There need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. — Deuteronomy 15:4-5
  • If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:17

Wonderful messages are included in each of those verses which help us identify what God says about helping the poor. The last one in this category is especially meaningful. God challenges us to not only speak about loving the poor. We are called to love with action and in truth!

At Compassion International, that is our mission. We provide you with a practical way to love the poor and needy through action.

Bible Verses About Helping Others in Need

It is helpful to study the Scriptures on taking care of the poor because they provide helpful insight on how to accomplish God’s command to care for the needy, as well as the blessing that comes from helping others.

  • A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. — Proverbs 11:25
  • Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. — Proverbs 14:31
  • And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” — Zechariah 7:8-10
  • Then Jesus said to his host . . . When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. — Luke 14:14
  • “I have the right to do anything,” you say — but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” — but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. — 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24
  • If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. — Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
  • When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
  • Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” — Matthew 26:6-13 [also Mark 14:1-11 and John 12:1-11]

The Bible verses about helping others in need reveal several things about helping others. We are called to consider others more important than ourselves—including those with emotional or physical disabilities, those suffering with illness, the widow and the orphan. From these Scriptures on taking care of the poor, we learn that God calls us to help those who can never repay our acts of kindness.

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Bible Verses to Overcome Poverty

The Bible tells us that God “takes up the case” of those who have been crushed. When we follow His lead, we become an advocate for the poor—doing whatever we can to fight for justice. These two themes are presented in the Bible on how to overcome poverty:

1. God is an advocate to the oppressed
  • The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. — Psalm 9:9
  • The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. — Psalm 9: 17-18
  • “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” — Psalm 12:5
  • My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” — Psalm 35:10
  • With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them. — Psalm 109:30-31
  • I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. — Psalm 140:12
  • May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. — Psalm 72:3-4
  • For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. — Psalm 72:12-14
  • Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. — Psalm 113:5-8
  • Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. — Psalm 146:5-9
  • [Lord]You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. — Isaiah 25:4
  • Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” — Luke 6:20-21
2. God uses His people to help those in need
  • The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. — Proverbs 22:9
  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. — Romans 12:11-13
Are you Actively Helping Peope who are less Fortunate?

Compassion International provides you with a practical way to help. By sponsoring a child, God will use you to bring hope and help to family in need—clean drinking water, educational opportunities, nutritional food, medical help, job training skills and other assistance. Most of all, your sponsored child will learn that God loves them!

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