9 Spiritual Issues Often Associated with Poverty

Poverty is as much a state of mind as it is a physical problem. We all have biases and incorrect views of God and what he wants to accomplish in our lives, and many of these are based on our experiences. The same is true for those living in poverty.

Here are nine issues often associated with living in poverty and the answers to them. This list is based on conversations I have had with seasoned charity leaders and Eng Hoe, Lim's book, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Revealing the Heart of God.

1.     God chose this destiny of poverty for me.

Despite how it may seem, God didn’t choose poverty for you—it’s a result of the fallen world we live in.

2.     I can’t do anything about the corruption in my society.

Actually you can—you can live ethically and mentor others to do the same. It's incredible how many positive changes this can bring.

3.     I will always be sick.

Others can work with you to bring sanitation, water, bed nets, and healthy living training to you: It will prevent most of the illnesses you experience.

4.     The rich are more loved by God than me.

Jesus lived as a poor man and ministered to the poor. Jesus loved the poor, and God often talks about bringing justice to the poor, so it's clear that he believes in you and loves you as much as anyone else.

5.     No matter how good my ideas are, they will never go anywhere.

You only believe this to be the case because no one has walked with you in the process of taking a product to market.

6.     My problems are merely physical.

Actually, all of our problems are spiritual too. Every struggle we have has some underlying spiritual element. If God can work through your entire life, often the physical problems will change in the process. Given, disease and pain will still exist because we live in a fallen world—that fell due to humanity’s choices to oppose God—but many of the issues associated with problems in the physical world are rooted in our misunderstandings of Jesus and what he wants to do among us. When we address the spiritual issues, we can begin to see things from God's perspective and begin to make wiser decisions.

7.     I am worth less than others in my society and around the world.

There couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Jesus came for all of us, every single one of us. Despite what oppressors in your society tell you, or how you feel others view you, Jesus views you as an equal.

8.     My sin brought me here.

Your sin may have resulted in some of your poverty issues—and yes, sin is the reason why poverty exists in general, because it was introduced into the world when humanity rebelled against God. But if sin directly resulted in poverty, many of the richest people in the world would be poor. And today you can have more riches than them by believing in Jesus: he offers a spiritual wealth, a fullness of life, that many who are wealthy will sadly never know.

9. No one cares about my plight.

I care. Jesus cares about you. We here at Jesus’ Economy care about you. We love you and want to walk with you on your way out of poverty.

There are answers to every single one of the problems associated with poverty.

The answers are found in loving people like Jesus did, and telling people how much Jesus loves them. We must provide an alternative to the worldviews that result in poverty—that alternative is Christ and charitable living.

If we who have wealth are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we often live as spiritually poor as those who are physically poor. We struggle with the same inherent issues: a belief that we can’t change the situation, that God cares less for us than others, or that God has brought this plight upon us.

God wants good for your life. He wants to offer you eternal life that starts now. Deny the hopelessness in favor of hope. Affirm Christ reigning in all of your life and see where it takes you. And then give that hope to someone else.

John Barry
John Barry


CEO and Founder of Jesus' Economy. John is the General Editor of the highly acclaimed Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary. His new book is Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. It is widely endorsed by Christian leaders from around the world.