When finding solutions, it is always helpful to look to Scripture and see what God has to say about our problems. It might surprise you to know the Lord designed a system to provide for the poor. The following are just a few of the scriptures that address poverty.
Leviticus 19:9-10 – When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the crops along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop – do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 15:11 – There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and other Israelites in need.
Proverbs 12:11 – A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
Proverbs 14:23 – Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.
Proverbs 20:4 – Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 – So I (Solomon) concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
Proverbs 23:29-30, 35 addresses the nature and results of addiction. Giving money, clean needles and safe places to shoot up and drink does not help the addicted. It enables them to continue in a lifestyle that will kill them and harm others.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 – “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” This scripture was posted over the gate of Jamestown. It wasn’t directed at the poor laborers, but the aristocrats who were used to being served.
These Bible passages show that the Lord expects those of us who are able-bodied to work, and the poor and disabled to be provided for while they actively seek a way out of their poverty. The Bible says the poor will always be among us. Those who are more fortunate can help the less fortunate.
I believe the majority of homeless we see on our streets are far more interested in a hand up than a handout. The Bible does not condone a class of people permanently living on the efforts of others. Working for a living builds a healthy sense of pride and helps communities prosper. Living on handouts makes people dependent, keeps them imprisoned in poverty, creates a victim mentality that paradoxically leads to a sense of entitlement.