“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

This proverb is a good start, but ultimately inadequate. We must do more than just feed the poor and teach them how to put food on the table. We must walk with the impoverished through the process of coming out of poverty—as their friends. And then, we must connect them to the right resources, so that their livelihoods are sustainable.

What if there aren't enough fish?

We must do more than teach the man to fish—we must fish with him for a while to see what the fishing is like. And then, we must ensure that the fish will always be around. This means connecting people to a larger pool of fish. It means considering not just local economies but the global economy.

When we consider how to best help those who are hurting, we have to think through not just the immediate problems but also the long-term difficulties. We should be asking questions like: How can I help someone not just build a business but be connected to a global marketplace?

So we could say the proverb should be revised to:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and connect him with the best fishing holes and you feed him for a lifetime.”

But what if the fishing is ruined by the environment or what if people steal the man's fish? How can we fix those types of problems? Our proverb may need even further revision.

Life is about more than fishing

Life is about much more than “learning how to fish.” If you teach a person to fish, but don’t meet their other basic needs, they will continue to struggle. It's not good enough to have fish to eat if I don't have clean water to drink or a medic clinic where that can care for my wounds.

Also, if you teach a person to fish but don’t help bring ethical standards to their community, their society will eventually fall apart. The good work will be undone.

There are deep rooted problems in society and these problems are ultimately spiritual. Corruption can destroy any good work. That's where ethics and thus healthy churches come in. We have to change the environment we live in if we want to see lives changed. We have to change the society.

"I will make you fishers of men."

And let’s also not forget what Jesus taught us about fishing in general: We are to do more than meet needs—we must lead people into God’s kingdom and the lifestyle that kingdom demands. Jesus' earliest disciples were fishermen and look what he said to them:

"And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him" (Matthew 4:18–19 NKJV).

Perhaps, then, we need to revise the proverb once more:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and connect him with the best fishing holes and you feed him for a time. Join a man in lifting his society out of spiritual and physical poverty and he will never be hungry again."

Although, often the "man" you find will turn out to be woman, whom we should never hesitate to empower. She can lift her entire family out of poverty. Thus the proverb is just as accurate when it reads as follows:

“Give a woman a fish and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to fish and connect her with the best fishing holes and you feed her for a time. Join a woman in lifting her society out of spiritual and physical poverty and she will never be hungry again."

Let's look at the whole picture

We need to do everything we can to look at the entire picture: the spiritual and physical problems affecting people. I believe this is how we empower people to overcome poverty. This is what creating a new, spiritual and physical economy for those who need it most is all about. This is what creating Jesus' economy is about.

I hope this article inspires you to do more than teach a man to fish. I hope you decide to really love someone today. Walk with people on their way out of poverty and work with them towards sustainability. Help instill biblical ethics into their community. In the process, I am betting that you will find—as I have—that it alleviates some of your own spiritual poverty.*


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*This article is based in part on my previous article, "Moving Beyond 'Teach a Man to Fish'."

In our culture, when you first meet someone, the first thing you do is introduce yourself with your name. The second thing is to ask the person across from you, “So what do you do?” And by that, we almost always mean, “What’s your occupation, your job?”

Our culture defines self by a title: what your boss says you can call yourself or if you’re the boss, what you call yourself. In this regard, I recently enjoyed meeting a pastor who called himself, “chief janitor.” He was noting the importance of this primary occupation that keeps everything else running. He was also emphasizing his desire to serve.

Our culture also searches for other ways to define ourselves: Once we retire, the definition usually comes in grandchildren or in “what I once did, before retirement.” This often leaves me wondering, “Why don’t we redefine ourselves in these years in a different way, seeing them as the time when we can finally be freed up to do whatever it is God is asking us to do?” Why can’t our golden years become golden years of ministry?

Rethinking How We Define Ourselves

In the book of Titus, we see Paul’s self-definition—how he viewed vocation (or calling), what he put on his resume or business card. This is not what you would expect. We also see a better vision for ministry, one that doesn’t go it alone but finds unity with likeminded people working together for the furthering of God’s mission in the world.

At some point in the mid-60s AD, between Paul’s first and second imprisonments in Rome, he wrote to Titus on the island of Crete. It appears that Paul is either on his way (or already in) Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Paul opens the letter with these words:

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior, To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:1–4 NIV, emphasis mine).

First Paul tells us that he is here to serve God; and then he tells us that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ—he is sent by Jesus on mission to the world (see Acts 9). Paul then gives us a purpose statement for his life: to further the faith of God’s people and to enhance their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.

Paul here is not interested in knowledge for the sake of knowledge; he wants people to grow as Christians so that they may be transformed by the gospel, the same gospel that had transformed his life.

This gospel, Paul tells us, is about eternal life and based in a promise of God since the very beginning of time (John 3:16). That is, God in his providence, understood that if Adam and Eve were to sin—to go against his will—that a new plan would have to be put in place. Furthermore, Paul is emphasizing that the personhood of Jesus has always been present: It is through him and by him that the world was made (John 1:1–4; Hebrews 1:1–2). This is the message of Jesus, that we may have life and life abundant (John 10:10).

How Do You Define Yourself?

Paul sees his entire vocation as wrapped up in this message—in the gospel, in Jesus. This is why he preaches. This is what he lives for. This is how he defines himself. And this is why he has enlisted the help of, and partnered with, Titus.

Shouldn’t we see our vocations and callings in a similar manner? Shouldn’t we define life by what Jesus is doing among us, through us, in us? Drop me a comment to let me know what you think. Have you tried changing how you define yourself and what were the results?

This article is part of our series "How to Authentically Live as a Christian: Paul's Letter to Titus."


Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.

 

In his new book, the founder of the nonprofit Jesus' Economy shares incredible, and often shocking, stories about working among the impoverished and unchurched in the U.S. and abroad. And since John D. Barry is a Bible scholar, Jesus’ Economy is also deeply rooted in the Scriptures. It is a personal, sometimes funny, often heartbreaking account that presents a revolutionary pattern for lasting change. Now you can read the Prologue and the first three chapters of Jesus' Economy for free.


What You'll Get Out of Jesus' Economy

The book is called Jesus’ Economy because it’s about creating a spiritual and physical economy for those who need it most. Here is a thoroughly biblical and compassionate pattern for addressing issues of poverty and offering the hope of the gospel. Jesus’ Economy:

  • Shows how you as an individual can best encourage renewal in your community.
  • Demonstrates how your church community or any group can alleviate poverty.
  • Presents a unified plan for creating jobs, spreading the gospel, and meeting basic needs.
  • Focuses on community development and sustainability—lasting change, globally and locally.

Read the Free Sampler of Jesus' Economy

Read Sample Pages


Pick Up Your Copy of Jesus' Economy

With everyday choices, you can make the world a better place. Learn how in Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. 100% of author's proceeds go to the nonprofit Jesus' Economy, to fuel the movement of creating jobs and churches in the developing world.

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You know the feeling: God has called you to do something for him, but you're unsure if you can. The act of service feels too great. Perhaps all you need to take that step of faith is a little perspective. Let's consider how Jesus' economy works. From that consideration emerges three steps that will help you commit to God's work in your life.

1. Consider the Value of Self-Sacrifice

We can see Jesus' economy, his perspective on our resources, in how his earliest disciples responded to his call:

“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:16–20 ESV).

Jesus’ earliest followers literally dropped their livelihoods to follow him—they completely dedicated themselves to him. Similarly, we are called to make sacrifices for Jesus—to show others love by giving, praying, and investing in them. We're called to embrace Jesus' economy of self-sacrifice.

2. Consider the Value of Acting Now

To a man with a recently lost love one, Jesus said:

“’Follow me.’ But [the man] said [to Jesus], ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59–60 ESV).

For Jesus, it’s all about God’s kingdom. There is no time for hesitancy; after all, Jesus (who is God incarnate) is staring right at this man. What can be more important? For us, it too should be all about God’s kingdom. Our lives should be all about living God's economy. And that means that our time, as a resource, is of incredible value to God. Hesitancy has a price. Is God calling you to act now or has he has asked you to wait?

3. Consider the Value of Looking Forward

From a different man, Jesus heard this in response:

“‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61–62 ESV).

There are no hesitations in service to God’s kingdom and there is no looking back—it’s all about what God is doing here and now. It’s all about putting our hand to the plow of God’s work. Jesus calls his followers to look forward and move forward.

If you love God, you love God's kingdom and you love people. If you love the kingdom, you’re not going to ask yourself what else is important: you’re going to just live for the kingdom. Look forward to what God is doing and embrace it with your whole life.

Living Jesus' Economy

Jesus has called us to join him in his work—to believe in it with all we have. The cost may be hard to bear or understand at times, but when it’s put in the perspective of all that Christ has done for us—dying for our sins—it seems like very little.

God has asked us to demonstrate our belief by bringing good news to those who feel hopeless. We are called to drop everything for him. This is what Jesus’ economy is all about: envisioning what the world could look like and joining God in the process of making that vision a reality.*


Want to go deeper into this subject? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.


*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "God's Economy Part Two: Truly Following Jesus."

The Bible talks a lot about how God blesses those who follow the path of righteousness. In passages like Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, we’re told that the one who trusts in God will be blessed. But when I look at the world, it seems that, more often than not, the good guy loses. Meanwhile, the deceptive seem to win. I'm going to ask a risky question: Why trust God when the wicked prosper? And how do I seek God’s blessing in a world that feels unjust?

It is this precise issue that Jeremiah the prophet addresses in the book of Jeremiah 17:5–13. Writing in the late seventh century and early sixth century BC, to the southern kingdom of Israel (called Judah), Jeremiah teaches us three things about how to seek God’s blessing.

1. Acknowledge God’s Intent for Blessing 

Echoing Psalm 1, Jeremiah provides a principle of how things should work.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5–8 NIV).

Those who trust in people (flesh) over God will find themselves withering away in a desert. But the one who trusts in God will be like a tree with deep roots. That one's roots go all the way to the stream, so that no matter what may come his or her way, there is a stream of water to draw upon. In drought, the one who trusts in Yahweh will endure.

2. Remember that God Knows the Heart

Jeremiah explains that God knows the hearts of those who trust in the ways of culture.

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

“Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools” (Jeremiah 17:9–11 NIV).

God sees the injustices. While many may be deceived, God knows. Trusting in God also means trusting in his knowledge of the injustices.

Furthermore, riches will desert us in the end. While our culture may prioritize material gain—at nearly any cost—God does not. And justice will come to those who exploit others in their journey to so-called success.

3. Trust in the Eternal, Not in Wealth

Jeremiah tells us that those who trust in Yahweh are putting their trust in the true "place of sanctuary ... the hope of Israel ... the spring of living water” (Jeremiah 17:12–13).

Blessings are intended for those who trust in God. Those who seek the path of deception or exploitation should experience the bareness of their decisions. But we’re still left with a problem: Why, then, does the world not work that way? Yet that could be the wrong question. Jesus would suggest that what’s needed to understand God’s blessings—and how to seek them—is a different perspective.

Blessing is Relationship with God

Blessing can come in material gain, positions of authority, and relationships, but blessing is first and foremost the deep well of relationship with God. This is at least what Jesus believed. Jesus says,

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh" (Luke 6:20–23 NIV).

Jesus' view of the blessed life should confront us. It demands that we reevaluate what blessing means. The poor are blessed because they will receive the kingdom of God. The hungry may be hungry now, but they will be filled by God. Those who weep and mourn will laugh in the end.

God’s blessing is about realizing here and now that while the world may favor the deceptive and greedy that God will make all things right in the end (see Revelation 21). This means changing our view of what it means to be blessed. It means learning to be a blessing.

How to Be a Blessing

Jesus and Jeremiah both call us to trust in God to provide the blessing. Pick any of Jesus' sermons and you find echoes of this. Jesus’ life also demonstrates this. Jesus did not look to the praise of people, wealth, or power for blessing. Jesus looks to God the Father. Jesus proved, in how he lived, that God's blessing—even when all hope seems lost—comes to those who seek righteousness. There is nothing that shows this more than the hope of resurrection on the other side of death on a cross.

This is why Jesus lovingly looks at the Rich Young Ruler and says, “One thing you lack. ... Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mark 10:21). The Rich Ruler, like the people Jeremiah addressed, had placed trust in the wrong place.

To seek God’s blessing, we must place trust in God—in belief that he will make all things right—and we must act as if we really believe what we say. That means self-sacrificially answering the call of justice for the poor, the hungry, and those who weep. It means having resurrection hope with a willingness to give of any and every resource that God has provided to better our world. We are blessed to bless.

Take This Step as You Seek God’s Blessing

Are you too trusting in your wealth and security? I ask you now to change that. What do you need to give up and trust God with. Consider it practically: is it wealth, a relationship, even an occupation? What are you prioritizing over God?

My challenge to you is to place your trust in Yahweh and watch him bless what he calls you to do. In this life, or in the day that he makes all things new (Revelation 21), we will see it. Blessed is the one who trusts in God.



Ready to Bless Other People?

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For those of us who have much, it is difficult to understand the lives of those who have little. We have trouble fully comprehending what life is like on the other side of the poverty line. But we’re closer to understanding than we might think.

Jesus is the person who brings us closer to understanding the difficulties of poverty. Jesus is the source of our empathy. My clue for this comes from passages like these:

“As they were going along the road, someone said to [Jesus], ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Luke 9:57–58).

Jesus was born as a poor man, lived as a poor man, and died as a poor man. The Son of Man, Jesus, had "nowhere to lay his head." In his travels as a rabbi (teacher), Jesus relied on the hospitality of other people.

Jesus Lived Like the Poor

Jesus lived like the poor. There is sadness in this statement, but it’s also hopeful. It makes me sad for Jesus, but in my empathy for Christ, I am learning to have even more empathy for those who are hurting. I am growing closer to God’s heart as I think upon Jesus’ plight.

This is much of what believing in Jesus is all about: We have an opportunity to recognize how God himself experienced the full spectrum of suffering, as Jesus, and then do as Christ did—give of ourselves freely for the betterment of others. This leads to a profound lesson that Jesus taught in how he lived: self-sacrifice is essential.

The Hope of the Poor Starts with Self-Sacrifice

There is hope for those living in extreme poverty. There is love to be offered. There is empathy to be found for each and every situation. There is empathy to be felt and experienced through our relationship with Jesus.

It is in Christ, who experienced poverty, that we also find the solution to poverty. We find new life through his resurrection. We find hope in him that we can offer to other people. We find order overtaking chaos. We find death itself not being able to hold back God’s work. We see a restoration of life—lived fully for the eternal God, starting now. There is power to be found in empathy.

If you find yourself struggling with empathy, look no further than Jesus; his example will guide you back. Jesus' self-sacrifice, for the sake of the spiritually and physically poor, is our example.*


Want to go deeper into this subject? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.


*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "Jesus and Empathy: Moving Closer to the Poverty Line."

 

When John D. Barry set out to write a book on how to empower the impoverished, he decided to consult a global cast of Christian leaders prior to publication. More than 30 Christian leaders have now endorsed, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. Here's a sampling of what they're saying.


“In Jesus’ Economy, John Barry points us toward a world where everyone has ‘this day our daily bread.’ Barry reminds us that God didn’t make a world of scarcity, or a world with too many people. Poverty was created by you and me, as we fall short of loving our neighbors as ourselves. As Gandhi put it, ‘There’s enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.’ We created poverty. And we can end it. Jesus and the early church show us the way. In this book, you will find an in-depth look at Scripture and economics, and a beautiful vision for a world where everyone has enough.”

—SHANE CLAIBORNE

Cofounder, The Simple Way and Red Letter Christians

Author, The Irresistible Revolution and Common Prayer

Jesus’ Economy is fast moving and 'heart' hitting. It will bring conviction. It will also give you hope. I am happy to commend its widest reading.”

—DR. DANIEL L. AKIN

President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Author or editor of numerous books and Bible commentaries, including I Am Going (with Bruce Riley Ashford) and Vibrant Church (with Thom S. Rainer)

Jesus’ Economy weaves together Scripture, realities of the world of poverty, and in-depth personal experience to produce a fine handbook for practical mission work. For John Barry, effective ministry is informed, holistic, and sacrificial—and his life bears this out.”

—ROBERT D. LUPTON

Best-selling author of several books, including Toxic Charity; Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life; and Theirs Is the Kingdom

President, FCS Urban Ministries

“John Barry has written an inspiring and readable account about Jesus, poverty, and the mission of the church. This book tells you what poverty is, where it is, what Jesus said about it, and how you can follow Jesus’ commands to end it. A great introduction to the socioeconomics of poverty, as well as Christian teaching on the subject. Great resource for pastors, students, and church groups!”

—REV. DR. MICHAEL F. BIRD

Author, Evangelical Theology and What Christians Ought to Believe

Academic Dean and Lecturer in Theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

Author, Euangelion blog, Patheos.com

“Considering the passion and action that John Barry and his wife, Kalene, have put into this project, I trust they must be prompted by God to do so. Barry shares deep insights into wealth and poverty from Jesus’ perspective. Jesus’ Economy is well worth reading, pondering, and putting into action, especially in this day and age.”

—DR. JULIE LEE WU

President and Dean, China Bible Seminary, Hong Kong

Recipient of Women in Leadership Award from the Association of Theological Schools

“John Barry’s Jesus’ Economy is not just a must-read, but it is also a book that the global church needs to embrace and use to teach Jesus’ life-changing and transformational principles. Barry is a terrific writer and an unusual type of Christian leader: he can correctly be described as a selfless, shepherd, servant type of leader. Barry’s ministry, the nonprofit Jesus’ Economy, makes a case for this book. Jesus’ Economy is a narrative of how to conquer the twin enemies of the human race: corruption and poverty. Barry gives the church not just theories and empirical data on poverty, but also concrete and practical examples of Jesus and His disciples’ models of poverty alleviation. Our churches in Africa can comfortably use this book in Sunday school or theological seminaries. I strongly recommend it to members of the global church who want to engage in the mission of God!”

—DR. SUNDAY BOBAI AGANG

Professor of Christian Ethics, Theology, and Public Policy, ECWA Theological Seminary, Kagoro, Nigeria

Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Author, No More Cheeks to Turn? and When Evil Strikes: Faith and the Politics of Human Hostility

“Jesus-followers with a kingdom perspective approach life as one big mission trip. John Barry’s Jesus’ Economy provides a clarion call to live as viral kingdom agents (the answer to ‘Why am I here?’) but also provides practical ways to love our neighbors (‘What do I do?’ and ‘How do I do it?’). John accomplishes this without scolding and shaming. Instead, he persistently encourages. The message of the book is ‘You can do this!’ We sometimes allow difficult circumstances or stalled progress to challenge our faith in this certainty. Then a book like Jesus’ Economy comes along and helps us believe all over again.”

—DR. REGGIE MCNEAL

Best-selling author whose works include The Present Future, Missional Renaissance, Kingdom Come, Kingdom Collaborators, and A Work of Heart

Missional Leadership Specialist, Leadership Network

“We often think of poverty as just an economic issue, but poverty has both economic and spiritual roots and effects. John Barry understands this and in Jesus’ Economy, he offers a long-term strategy for healing both physical and spiritual poverty: job creation, church planting, and meeting people’s basic needs, with a focus on community development and sustainability.”

—DR. JAY W. RICHARDS

Author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated and Indivisible, and the 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award-winner Money, Greed, and God

Research Assistant Professor, Busch School of Business, The Catholic University of America Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute

Learn to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love. Pick up your copy of Jesus' Economy today.

Buy the Book Now

In Jesus' economy, things are reversed from what you would expect. The book of James tells us that that the poor are rich in faith, and thus heirs of a great blessing—God’s kingdom. Meanwhile, James calls us, who have much, into a deeper faith where we truly love our neighbor.

“Did not God choose the poor of the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor! … [If] you carry out the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and thus are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles in one point only has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2:5–6, 8–10 LEB).

The poor of the world have the gift of to be rich in faith. You would expect for James to tell us that those who are rich are surely blessed, and thus are clearly the most thankful (and perhaps, by extension, inheritors of great things), but he doesn’t. The opposite is true.

If you want to find Jesus' greatest blessing, a life of faith, you look to the downtrodden. That's where Jesus is.

James goes on to confront us about that which we so easily forget: we’re called to love our neighbor, as we would want to be loved; and that means avoiding partiality. When we show partiality, we not only do wrong by others, but actually go against what James calls the “royal law” of God. When we stumble on the point of showing partiality, we are breaking the value of the entire law of God: loving him and others.

We cannot show our love for God without loving other people. Thankfully, God is always quick to show mercy and grace, but this does not make our mistake against the poor, marginalized, and outsider acceptable.

When reading James’ thoughts, I am struck by the fact that he presents us not just with a commandment, but with an opportunity. Here, in this little New Testament letter, it is revealed to us how God’s kingdom works. Here, in this letter, we’re given a chance to turn away from that which we think will fulfill us and turn toward the fulfilling work of God. We’re given a chance to show true love for the inheritors of God’s kingdom, the poor.

And [Jesus] lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20 ESV).

To my brothers and sisters around the poor, I want to tell you good news: the kingdom of God is yours. To my friends around the world who are plagued by the trappings of wealth, I want to tell you that we will find God's kingdom among the impoverished. Let us join them in renewing our world.

In Jesus' economy, the value is not wealth, status, or prestige. The value is love. That's the currency. And that's why the poor, who are often well acquainted with grief and the need to be empowered, more easily understand the values of God's kingdom. They already know how the economy in this kingdom works.

James offers us a powerful opportunity and an incredible message—whether we’re wealthy or not. In God’s kingdom, the only difference between those who are wealthy and those who are not is the ease by which they enter his kingdom and join his work. Will you join his work today? Will you love like Jesus?*


Want to go deeper into this subject? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.


*This article is based on my earlier article, "Everything in God's Kingdom is Reversed and That's Good News."

John Barry here, founder of the nonprofit Jesus' Economy. Have you ever had one of those moments when, after a long journey, you feel like you finally understand what God has been doing?

On the road of following Jesus into the unknown of starting the nonprofit Jesus' Economyand then selling our house and most of what we own to go full-time with the organization—Kalene and I have often felt vulnerable, scared, and even alone. But along the way, Jesus has taught us much and drawn us closer to himself. Today, I have the honor of presenting that journey to you in the form of my new book Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

In the book Jesus' Economy, I invite you to journey with me into the unknown. I tell you stories from my time serving with the nonprofit Jesus' Economy in Northeast India, working among the homeless in the Pacific Northwest, and working on church planting initiatives in a primarily unchurched area of the United States. As I lived these stories, God taught me what it means to truly love. That's why I share them with you.

This journey also goes into the ancient world as we learn from our teacher Jesus, his earliest followers, and the biblical prophets. In their teachings, we find that a biblical pattern for alleviating poverty and sharing the love of Jesus emerges. Throughout the book, I draw on my background in biblical scholarship to answer the question, "What is a biblical view of poverty?" It's probably not what you would guess.

At the heart of the book is an idea that changed my entire life. That idea is that Jesus has a new economy in mind. Jesus' economy is based on self-sacrifice and his currency is love.

I want to empower you to live Jesus' economythe currency of love. And that's why the book Jesus' Economy includes an entire section that is very practical. It tells you how to sustainably and effectively alleviate poverty in a wide variety of contexts.

Join the movement by picking up your copy of my new book Jesus' Economy. 100% of my proceeds go to the nonprofit Jesus' Economy to fuel the movement of creating jobs and churches in the developing world.

Announcing the Book ...

Jesus' Economy

For years, we've been working on a resource that empowers you to alleviate poverty and share the love of Jesus. On Tuesday, it arrives. Announcing our founder's book Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

How to live Jesus' economy—a currency of love

The book Jesus’ Economy:

  • Shows how you as an individual can best encourage renewal in your community.
  • Demonstrates how your church community or any group can alleviate poverty.
  • Presents a unified plan for creating jobs, spreading the gospel, and meeting basic needs.
  • Focuses on community development and sustainability—lasting change, globally and locally.

Support the movement by placing your pre-order today.

100% of author's proceeds go to the nonprofit Jesus' Economy, to fuel the movement of creating jobs and churches in the developing world.

 Find Out More  

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