Religion, Poverty and Wealth

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Christian views about wealth

Main teaching of Jesus and Christianity -----> Fairness and justice for everyone,        especially the poor

Christians believe that people should be more concerned about having spiritual gifts and gaining them from heaven. 

Poverty: not having enough money for basic needs

Wealth: money or possessions

Genesis 28:22 - Jacob states he will give the Lord one tenth of everything

Matthew 6:1-4 - Jesus taught you should give to charity in secret

Luke 21:1-4 - Jesus praising the poor widow who put in all she had in a charity box

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Christian views on the causes of hunger, poverty a

Reasons for people in terrible lives:

  • debt
  • corrupt governements
  • war

Many people believed that illness/suffering were punishments for sin or lack of faith in God.

 In Middle Ages, plague was considered a punishment for all the sins of the world. 

Poverty in the developing world have been caused by the way in which these countries were exploited for their wealth and natural resources by the rich countries.

Some people believed that the Devil brought disasters on to people to test their faith.

Another view  was that God allowed the Devil to tempt people in this way in order to show how strong their faith was. ---> Example of this is in the Book Of Job

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Biblical teaching about caring for others

Christian responses to the needs of the starving, poor and sick are based on the teachings in the Bible about care for others:

  • Book of Leviticus teaches people to help the poor and support them. It also says that money should be lent to the poor without interest. 
  • When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he said:          'Love thy neighbour as yourself'
  • Some people have said that in the sermon Jesus appears to be talking to people about future happiness and not an improvement in their present lives. The important point is that Jesus was promising that the situation of people who were suffering would improve. Christians believe that they have a duty to help bring in the Kingdom of God, and caring for others is one way to do this. 
  • Christian charities work to help those who are poor and suffering so that their lives on earth are improved.
  • Many christians follow Jesus' footsteps when he healed the sick.
  • Christians believe prayer is an important aspect in helping the poor.
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Christian teachings on the use of money

Christians' concern for the poor also influences how they should spend their money. They do not believe that money is evil in itself  but if someone puts their desires to be rich before carrying out the wishes of God to look fter the poor then this becomes evil. Jesus explained this in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

  • many people believed wealth was a gift from god
  • Jesus was clear that people who wished to follow God should give away their riches --> monks and nuns are examples
  • Affective Poverty - when someone can seperate themselves from any money or possessions which they have. 
  • Paul taught that the 'love of money is the root of all evil' and Jesus said that people cannot serve two masters, God and money.

Some Christians believe it is wrong for a Christian to be rich when there are people who are starving because of lack of money. 

Exodus (22:25) teaches that money should not be lent at interest.

Many christians do not approve of gambling.

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How Christians should care for the poor

Christians should be charitable in their approach to other people. 

Many Christian charities who try to help those who are poor:

  • Christian aid
  • Salvation Army
  • Tearfund

These charities aid long term and short term 

Christians believe that there are many ways in which you can help the poor : giving time or expertise.

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Christian teaching - moral and immoral occupations

A Christian should look to their conscience and the teachings in the Bible before deciding what job to do.

  • Shouldn't do anything to harm others ---> not work in army or selling weapons
  • Not be involved in illegal occupations ---> prostitution, *********** or illegal drugs
  • Some christian doctors/nurses don't want to take part in abortion
  • Methodist church and salvation army ---> opposed to use of alcohol
  • Some christians don't work on sunday ---> day of rest
  • Occupations that help others ---> nurse, doctor, policeman because of Jesus' commandment to love one another.
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