In Judaismtzedakah refers to the religious obligation to do what is right and just, which Judaism emphasises are important parts of living a spiritual life. Maimonides says that, while the second highest form of tzedakah is to give donations anonymously to unknown recipients, the highest form is to give a gift, loan, or partnership that will result in the recipient supporting himself, instead of living upon others. Unlike philanthropy or charity, which is completely voluntary, tzedakah is seen as a religious obligation, which must be performed regardless of financial standing, and must even be performed by poor people.
First, a biblical view of wealth is necessary if we are to live godly lives, avoiding asceticism on the one extreme and materialism on the other. Second, a biblical view of poverty is essential if we are to fulfill our responsibilities to the poor.
A Biblical View of Wealth Our materialistic culture is seducing Christians into an economic lifestyle that does not glorify God. Even within the Christian community, believers are bombarded with unbiblical views of wealth. At the other extreme are radical Christians who condemn all wealth and imply that rich Christian is a contradiction in terms.
What, then, is the truly biblical view of wealth? At first glance, the Bible seems to teach that wealth is wrong for Christians.
It appears even to condemn the wealthy. After all, both Jesus and the Old Testament prophets preached against materialism and seemed to say at times that true believers cannot possess wealth.
If this is so, then all of us in Western society are in trouble, because we are all wealthy by New Testament standards. But a comprehensive look at the relevant biblical passages quickly reveals that a biblical view of wealth is more complex.
In fact, Scripture teaches three basic principles about wealth. First, wealth itself is not condemned. For example, we read in Genesis Proverbs, Jeremiah, 1 Timothy, and James all teach that the believer should not trust in wealth but in God Prov.
Second, when wealthy people in the Bible were condemned, they were condemned for the means by which their riches were obtained, not for the riches themselves. The Old Testament prophet Amos railed against the injustice of obtaining wealth through oppression or fraud 4: Micah spoke out against the unjust scales and light weights with which Israel defrauded the poor 6: Neither Amos nor Micah condemned wealth per se; they only denounced the unjust means by which it is sometimes achieved.
Third, Christians should be concerned about the effect wealth can have on our lives.
We read in Proverbs Wealthy believers may no longer look to God for their provision because they can meet their basic needs. We read in Ecclesiastes 2 and 5 that people who are wealthy cannot really enjoy their wealth.
Even billionaires often reflect on the fact that they cannot really enjoy the wealth that they have. So the Bible does not condemn those who are wealthy. But it does warn us that if God blesses us with wealth, we must keep our priorities straight and guard against the seductive effects of wealth.
A Biblical View of Poverty The Bible classifies the causes of poverty into four different categories. The first cause of poverty is oppression and fraud. In the Old Testament e. Many times, governments established unjust laws or debased the currency, measures that resulted in the exploitation of individuals.
The second cause of poverty is misfortune, persecution, or judgment. In the book of Job we learn that God allowed Satan to test Job by bringing misfortune upon him 1: Elsewhere in the Old Testament e.
The third cause of poverty is laziness, neglect, or gluttony. Proverbs teaches that some people are poor because of improper habits and apathy The final cause of poverty is the culture of poverty. People who grow up in an impoverished culture usually lack the nutrition and the education that would enable them to be successful in the future.
Poverty and Government While government should not have to shoulder the entire responsibility for caring for the poor, it must take seriously the statements in Leviticus and Proverbs about defending the poor and fighting oppression.What the Bible Says About Poverty He commands us to give generously to them 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 that speak to how He asks us to relate to and serve the less fortunate among us. Poverty In The Old Testament Essay. In the Old Testament poverty denotes both a lack of economic resources and material goods, as well as political and legal powerlessness - Poverty In The Old Testament Essay introduction.
In ancient Israel the poor weren’t a social class, rather they were a diverse body consisting of small farmers, day laborers, beggars, debt slaves and village dwellers. The Old Testament brings up some interesting questions regarding poverty and the poor. I’ve been going through the Old Testament (I’m up to Numbers) on my own to see what God says about the “poor” (which is usually the the alien, widow and orphan).
Jewish views of poverty, wealth and charity Jump to In summary, Kelly writes that, "the Old Testament saw wealth as something good, but warned the wealthy not to use their position to harm those with less.
The rich had an obligation to alleviate the sufferings of the poor.". Poverty is a central theme in the prophetic books (which in the Christian Bible make up roughly the last third of the Old Testament, from Isaiah to Malachi).
Many of the prophets denounce those “who oppress the poor, who crush the needy” (Amos 4,1). Jewish views of poverty, wealth and charity Jump to In summary, Kelly writes that, "the Old Testament saw wealth as something good, but warned the wealthy not to use their position to harm those with less.
The rich had an obligation to alleviate the sufferings of the poor.".