Bible Verses about Poverty and Caring for the Poor
As the living Word of God, the Bible covers an array of topics essential to life, including poverty and how we should treat the poor. There are numerous Bible verses about poverty that give us insight into this subject.
From Jesus’s life on earth, it’s clear God does not consider poverty a condition to scorn.
The Christ child was born into a common family and raised among common people by a simple tradesman, who was evidently “poor enough to qualify to offer two pigeons at the birth purification ceremony rather than the usual yearling lamb” (see Leviticus 12:8 and Luke 2:24).1 The King of kings was not born in a palace or even a house, but in a manger surrounded by livestock. His birth was heralded not to the elite of society, but to lowly shepherds.
As an adult, Jesus regularly associated with the poor and outcasts of society, including orphans, prostitutes, leprosy patients, beggars and widows.2 He even welcomed lower-class, smelly fishermen into His inner circle of disciples.
Jesus Himself declared,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”Luke 4:18
In the beatitudes, Jesus declared the poor in spirit, the meek and the merciful to be among those “blessed” (see Matthew 5:1–12). Jesus also spoke of storing up treasures in heaven, which are eternal, rather than storing up treasures on this earth, which are temporary (see Matthew 6:19–20).
Furthermore, in speaking of future judgement and reward, Jesus says to those who inherit the kingdom,
“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’” … “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’”Matthew 25:35-36, 40
Jesus cares so much for the “least of these,” the poor and the downtrodden, that He says anything done for them is equivalent to doing it directly for Himself. Here are some more feed the poor Bible insights …
Jesus clearly desires Christians to follow His example in caring for the poor and unfortunate, not out of pity but out of humility and compassion.
Focus on the Family expresses it this way:
“God cares deeply about the poor and expects His people to do the same. … Christian giving is not so much a matter of helping the poor as it is of identifying with them and embracing their poverty as our own. … By giving to the needy out of what we have, we cast our lot with them, entering into a kind of mutual bond and solidarity in terms of both want and wealth, ‘that there may be equality’ (see 2 Corinthians 8:14).”3
But caring for the poor is not a concept unique to the New Testament. The Mosaic law is full of provisions for the poor. Psalms and Proverbs also speak of caring for the poor and the oppressed. Many other Bible passages about poverty exist, and we’re highlighting below a few Bible verses about helping the poor and orphans.
Let’s consider some Bible verses about poverty and caring for the poor from the Old Testament:
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”Leviticus 19:9–10
“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother… You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”Deuteronomy 15:7, 10–11
“Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”Psalm 41:1
“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”Proverbs 14:31
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.”Proverbs 19:17
“Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”Proverbs 21:13
There are numerous Christian organizations following Christ’s example and guidance to compassionately care for the poor. GFA World, for example, has been serving the “least of these” in places such as Asia and Africa since 1979.
1 Jenkins, Dave. “How Did Jesus View Wealth and Poverty?” Christianity.com. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/how-did-jesus-view-wealth-and-poverty.html. November 2, 2020.
2 Jenkins, Dave. “How Did Jesus View Wealth and Poverty?” Christianity.com. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/how-did-jesus-view-wealth-and-poverty.html. November 2, 2020.
3 “Biblical Basis for Giving to the Poor.” Focus on the Family. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-qa/biblical-basis-for-giving-to-the-poor/. Accessed November 2, 2021.