By Stephen Phinney

When we look closely at God’s Word, it really seems like He shows favorites when it comes to the poor and needy.

Poverty creates dependence and dependence begs for special treatment, which is exactly what God gives. Poor people statistically have more faith than wealthy people. What that tells us is that poor people have a special niche about being able to look into the unseen world, which requires an enormous amount of faith. The reason God seems to give special favor to poor people is that poor people classically know that faith is more important than gold and silver. They seem to understand that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6, NASB).

I know it is not any fun to view God, or anyone for that matter, as showing favorites over another. Believe me my reader, if anyone has the prerogative to show favoritism – it is the God of the Universe.

"Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5, NASB).

This is why we are to listen very closely to the poor. God has chosen and blessed them with a faith that is rare. According to the Holy Scriptures, the poor who love Him are given a special grace when it comes to Salvation and being heirs of the Kingdom of God. Whereas with the wealthy, and those who strive after it, He tends to be pretty tough. These are not my words, but are God’s words.

Our Abba has granted to the poor a special freedom from certain worries, doubts, and fears, which classically plague people who have money or are determined to get it. As a counselor of over 30 years, I can tell you that poor people sleep better at night.

“The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12, NASB).

The number one reason why most people do not sleep at night, according to their own answers, is worrying over money problems; either warring over what to do with it or how to get it. As all of us can attest that when we have faith, we have peace; when peace rules, we sleep unencumbered.

One of the questions I have been asked through the years (and hate answering) is:

“Why does God allow the wicked to prosper financially?”

God allows some evil men to prosper for a season. I believe His purpose seems to be to let them see the emptiness and futility of their constant pursuit of money, wealth, and fame. He’s hoping they will one day turn to Him for full-on repentance. He has said that He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good – no matter their level of prosperity. Personally, I don’t think God is so concerned about the “level” of prosperity or poverty.

 “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45, NASB).

It is sad for me to say, but most think the “goodness of God” is a sign that they can indulge all the more. The real reason for prosperity is to lead the people into repentance – not a reward of it. God’s kindness is not to satisfy our wants or our NEEDS, but rather to usher us into confessing sins for further righteousness.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NASB).

The average person uses money to measure God’s level of contentment and approval of his life. There is a certain amount of “trouble” that comes with this kind of “stinky thinking.” The reason is in how the money is spent.

“Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked” (Proverbs 15:6, NASB).

Wicked people typically, if not always, use their funding to spread their base of influence and control. They work their entire lives to make themselves BIGGER than LIFE. When they are gone, all of what they worked tirelessly to obtain, goes into a gold plated casket -- bummer.

“I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found” (Psalms 37:35-36, NASB).

I believe we need to look at the other end of the spectrum. Is it possible for God to approve of a dynamic Christian being poor? I know very FEW who do not use financial success as a measuring tool to determine God’s level of support for a man’s life. Most “Christians” I know actually wonder if God is disciplining the dedicated Christian who is living “hand to mouth.” Most of Paul’s writings affirm that he had very little money to work with. No, he didn’t have some fundraising “campaigners” sustaining his ministry. He certainly learned to be content with wealth and poverty.

God wanted Paul and his coworkers to demonstrate the role and acts of a bondslave; how to endure through all forms of difficulties – while rejoicing in poverty. You see, by doing this, Paul speaks to “85% of the world.” Yes, you read it correctly; over 85% of the entire world’s population lives “hand to mouth.” God wanted Paul to show the majority that we can have nothing and still possess everything. What I just wrote is one of the golden keys to the victorious Christian life.

“But in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses” (2 Corinthians 6:4, NASB).

“As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:10, NASB).

God’s children will not only experience poverty from time to time, He purposes to use it to teach His children that He will never leave them or leave them hanging. One who is poor, is usually rich in faith; those who are rich in faith gain the attention of God! Besides, God is not into His children “begging for bread.”

'I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread” (Psalms 37:25, NASB).

Any of you who have traveled to poverty-stricken countries to visit or to serve, you know that the faith of those people is rare and is seldom found in an American church. The first time I came back from a trip to Africa, I suffered grief for two weeks attempting to process the difference between American faith and that of the “third world.”