Editor’s note: A new edition of For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty is being released by Zondervan today. Anne Bradley, IFWE’s vice president of economic initiatives and one of the book’s editors, reflects on the impact of the book and why it’s important for Christians to work together to find a biblical solution to poverty.
In the past year I’ve been amazed at the conversations taking place around For the Least of These. It is an honor to be an editor alongside Dr. Art Lindsley, IFWE’s resident theologian. Over the past year we’ve taken the message of the book across the country and even abroad. I am amazed at the questions and deep wrestling taking place among Christians trying to understand what the Bible has to say about caring for the poor.
In all of those discussions, I have never once spoken with a Christian who does not believe they have a duty to care for the poor. Most Christians take this duty quite seriously. Where I see Christians disagree, often vehemently, is on how we care for the poor.
For the Least of These has helped me learn that this is a matter of stewardship. We don’t get to choose the “how” in how we care for the poor. We have to do it the right way, because lives hang in the balance.
We can’t just agree to disagree about the best means for caring for the poor. If we do it wrong, two things are going to happen:
- We will waste precious resources, and we can’t do that because we don’t have unlimited resources and thus we must steward them wisely.
- We may end up hurting the very people we are called to help, the people we care for so deeply.
We know we can’t do that. We have to fight against anything that harms the poor and keeps them in poverty.
To overcome these pitfalls, Christians need to be armed with the economic way of thinking found in scripture. God created us to care for the world, to be fruitful and multiply, and the only way we can do that is to cultivate our talents and serve others.
The biggest problem with poverty is that it keeps people from using their God-given gifts to serve others and enjoy the dignity of their creation and fulfillment from their work.
Hegel, the German philosopher, talked about what would one day be “the end of history” when all former conflicting ideologies will be resolved and we will have one way in which to move forward. It seems that most generations have believed themselves to be close to the end of history.
We are certainly living in an amazing time where we will likely see the stamping out of abject poverty on the globe in our own lifetimes.
It is our hope that from this we can learn the one right way to advance prosperity and bring about greater flourishing for everyone, and that some of these debates can be settled once and for all.
We hope For the Least of These plays some small part in advancing that dialogue.
Visit IFWE’s bookstore to get your copy of For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty.
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