Missiology Through Scripture – Deuteronomy 15:7

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,” – Deuteronomy 15:7

In the modern Western world, we possess an extremely negative attitude toward the poor. This verse is contrary to our secular mentality of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps. We are here commanded not to harden our hearts to those we view as lazy, foolish, or dishonest. This is where our secular capitalistic mindset contradicts with God’s clear commands. For disciples of God, there is no latitude. The poor have been given to us for a reason.

This passage is a specific reference to fellow believers. This is not referencing foreigners or non-believers, but is saying we have a special duty to those in the faith. The cause of the poverty is not relevant. We don’t have the liberty to neglect a brother because we view the source of their poverty as unworthy of aide. Substance abuse, gambling, or poor money management is not a sufficient reason for God’s elect to neglect the needy.

It is imperative we not think we are prosperous because of our work ethic or intelligence. If we have material blessings it is because God has made it so. Only when we acknowledge 100% of our blessings as coming from God’s hand will we understand they are not ours to enjoy on our own. Hans Kyalbein said, “Poverty is a curse; stability and prosperity are blessings from God. But the experience of God’s blessing should result in generosity and in care for the poor.”[1] If we didn’t earn it, and we don’t deserve it, we have no right to keep it for ourselves.

This is another passage focusing on those who are suffering among us. The God-given poor are struggling in our midst and we see them daily. Many of us have chosen to ignore God and neglect the poor in our own towns. This was never God’s intent for that which he has given us.


[1] H. Kvalbein, “Poor/Poverty,” ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 688.