It is NOT a sin to be poor (unless you commit a sin which leads to being poor, as we shall see later). The Lord Jesus Himself was born in poverty and remained in poverty. 2nd Corinthians 8:9 declares, “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He WAS RICH, yet for your sakes He BECAME POOR, that you THROUGH HIS POVERTY might become rich.”

Poverty is, in most cases, the RESULT of someone’s sin. We need only think of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden to prove this point. Adam and Eve were created in Paradise and God provided them abundantly with everything they needed. They had all the food their heart desired, as we see in Genesis 2:9, “And of the ground the LORD God made every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” They had a perpetual source of water for their food to grow. “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden” (verse 10). The weather must been perfect, for we don’t read of Adam and Eve having to build a home or shelter, nor did they need clothes to wear to stay warm. But a dramatic change occurred after they sinned, for God told Adam in Genesis 2:17-19, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” The earth was now under the curse and unless Adam would work hard, he would indeed experience POVERTY.

The earth is still under the curse due to Adam’s sin and men must work hard in order to provide food, shelter and clothing for them and their families. If they are lazy they will indeed be in poverty, as we in the following verses, “He who has a slack (lazy) hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich….Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 10:4 and 19:15). This teaches us that “laziness” is a sin that results in poverty.

Another sin that leads to poverty is when the RICH OPPRESS THE POOR. We read of this in James 5:4, “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which YOU KEPT BACK BY FRAUD, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” The “sin” here is greed and the failure to pay those who work for you a proper wage.

There are circumstances beyond one’s control which may cause one born in poverty to remain in poverty. If they live in a poor country without any way of bettering themselves (they have no education or jobs available to them), they will continue to be poor. Because of cases like these, man will never rid the world of poverty. The Lord referred to this in John 12:8, “For the poor you have with you always.”

Yet it isn’t always laziness, oppression, or dire living conditions that result in poverty. I’m thinking of natural catastrophes (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) that leave people without food and shelter. This may be traced back again to “the curse” that God placed on the earth when Adam sinned. Adam’s sin was so abhorrent to God that He judged the earth in ways that have indeed led to poverty. Of course, when God allows these things to happen He is also trying to speak to men in these natural disasters. If He can “gain their ear,” their poverty may be used to “humble their hearts” and to bring them to “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ“ (Acts 20:21). This will result in them being “poor in spirit” and yet blessed richly because of it! This is borne out in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.” The truth is God loves to bless the poor with spiritual blessings. I would encourage you to read the following passages that confirm this: Luke 4:14-18; Matthew 11:5; 1st Corinthians 1:26-28; and James 2:5. (332.1) (DO)