Serving, ministering, helping—all of these words describe what we are called to do as followers of Christ. In I Corinthians 12:28, the apostle Paul writes, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” This list includes helping others and especially those in need. In other words, we are all called to exercise the gifts that we have been given, and helping the poor is one of the top ones on the list. Therefore, here is my list of the top 7 Bible verses about helping the poor.
Proverbs 14:31 “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”
From the beginning of creation, God has had a heart for all people. He took care of Adam and Eve and every generation of humanity since then. This verse clearly states that being generous to the poor and needy honors God. If that is the case, then we are all called to do just that. King Solomon, the author of the book of Proverbs, also states that the opposite is true. Whoever hurts or oppresses the poor, also insults God. It seems quite evident that taking care of those in need is very important to the Lord.
Proverbs 22:9 “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
Everyone desires and prays for blessings, and this verse here explains one way that we can be abundantly favored. The way described in this verse is that we should share our food and bread with the poor. Sometimes we think that just being kind to those less fortunate than us is enough, but God’s word tells us here that we should also be generous with our food. We should all be hospitable by inviting others into our homes as well as sharing food with those less fortunate than ourselves.
Proverbs 28:27 “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.”
Giving to the poor will not only bless us, but it will also ensure our own abundant provision. God’s word here is also clear that if we avoid helping those in need, then we will suffer loss. Obeying God’s commandments will always bring many rewards to our lives, but ignoring them will also bring curses that will harm us.
Proverbs 31:20 “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
This passage in the book of Proverbs is a beautiful description of a godly woman who loves the Lord and her family, and who is favored and successful in all that she does. It is often referred to as the chapter on “the virtuous woman” or “the wife of noble character.” And in Christian circles, this woman is definitely admired and exalted as the epitomy of Christian female perfection. This is because she is hardworking, self-sacrificing, joyful and dedicated to everyone else. She works diligently night and day to help everyone around her. She especially blesses the needy and the poor with her generosity and concern for them as expressed in this verse.
Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…”
The prophet Isaiah was sharing about his own calling to serve the Jewish nation in this verse, but he was also prophesying about the coming Messiah. Part of that calling was to bring good news to the poor—in other words to be kind and compassionate towards them and help them as needed. This is one of those powerful verses in the Bible that transcends time and space, because it describes Isaiah in his day, but it also describes Jesus when he came to earth several hundred years later, and then it also applies to us as Christians today. So if Isaiah and Jesus were anointed to minister to the poor, then likewise we are called to minister to them as well.
Matthew 19:21” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The rich young ruler is often described as the sad story of one who could have been so blessed to follow Jesus, but who chose instead to stay home and keep his riches. He told Jesus that he wanted to follow him, but when Jesus instructed him to sell his possessions and give everything to the poor, the young man balked. While it is true that the young man missed out on an incredible opportunity to walk with the Messiah, I believe this verse also shows the care and concern that the Lord has for the poor as well. If we share what we have with those in need, then similarly we will be able to walk with Jesus and store up treasure in heaven.
The apostles of the early church had a lot on their hearts and minds in Jerusalem. They faced almost immediate persecution and other trials, but yet they kept their eyes focused on their Savior while following the leading of the Holy Spirit. After Paul’s conversion, a huge controversy erupted among the young Christians about whether it was necessary to follow all of the Jewish laws in order to be saved. After much prayer and discussion, the apostles realized that it was not necessary to be Jewish for salvation, and so they told Paul their conclusion. He was commissioned, though, to remember and take care of the poor. Since the apostles of the early church felt this was critical for Paul to share with fellow Christians on his travels, then it appears that this is also very important and dear to the heart of God.
Loving and serving God is and should be synonymous with helping the poor. It was certainly on his heart, as he incorporated many verses into his written word about that very topic. The Lord is not prejudiced against anyone, as he loves us all very much. He also knows that we are blessed when we put others before ourselves. Helping others—especially the poor and needy—is a gift and a calling that we cannot shirk as Christians. So let’s go out and help our neighbors and our friends in need.
Written by Karla Hawkins
God has been good to me over the years, and I have much for which to be grateful to Him. First of all, I feel blessed to be the pastor’s wife of a thriving church in northern Michigan and the mother of four amazing grown children. It is also very rewarding to be a Christian author, editor and translator for the Kingdom of God. Some of my favorite pastimes include supporting my children’s contemporary Christian band ONLY9AM, singing on the worship team at church, traveling, and connecting with family and friends via social media. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and especially with my precious three-year-old grandson.