Why You Should Not Say, “The poor will be with you always.”

“Poverty is not a sin.”

 

He spoke these words boldly, as if he was saying something prophetic. Then he gave a pregnant pause, and waited for the audience to delight at this great revelation. These were the words uttered by a pastor while I was attending a workshop at a church planning conference for leaders. While this statement is true, I didn’t find the words that followed particularly insightful.

He approached the topic of poverty in the same way that I have heard many American pastors and Christians quote the scripture:

“The poor will be with you always…”

When I hear both of these statements, particularly in the contexts in which they were given, I have great concern that the pastors are not challenging themselves or their hearers to respond to poverty in any tangible way. The problem with these holy references is they are both incomplete, and an incomplete truth can be just as harmful as a lie.

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