Is Poverty Financially Viable?

The other day, Steve Harvey posted a video saying, “rich people don’t sleep 8 hours per day.” The video ends with him quoting Proverbs 20:13. Before I saw this video, I had no idea he had gotten into preaching, but hey, you learn something new every day.

He also says we don’t “pray big enough.” As in, “Don’t pray that your junk car will be fixed, pray for a new car.” I think it’s clear how silly that is.

Every time someone quotes scripture and talks about money, I get a little antsy. Every time I think we’re through with the prosperity Gospel, someone goes and brings it back. Someone finds a random proverb about personal responsibility and says “See! God said it’s all up to you! You gotta work hard and get that mad cheddar, son!”

But that’s not how it works.

God wants us to rely on Him. That means praying for everything, even the small things. And since prayer is ultimately for us to grow in holiness, you have to follow through. If you pray that you’ll make rent and blow $200 on something useless, it’s clear that prayer hasn’t changed you.

The good news is, responsibility with money is easy. The bad news is, every company around you is trying to get you to be irresponsible. Responsibility with money means only buying what you can afford, tithing, and saving. It means not being too stingy but also not being too reckless.

Talking about how to succeed at your financial goals is fine and all, but in a Christian context, it means nothing if you don’t talk about poverty. Something that’s important to me as I transition into adulthood is living poverty well, so I’ve listed three practices for growing in spiritual poverty:

1) Rely on God

Poverty is, ultimately, total reliance on God. The poor rely on others for their life, and so we rely on God for ours. Contrary to what Steve said, I believe this means praying for everything. When you feel successful, tell Him. Failure, fear, happiness, excitement, whatever.

Take everything to prayer, even small desires. God gave you those desires for a reason. If you practice praying about small things, you’ll be ready to rely on God in the big things.

2) Detach from Possessions

We usually talk about “detachment” when we talk bout poverty, but it is the second step. When you try to rely on God, you’ll find out how attached you are to certain things; particularly, your money and your stuff.

Tithing is a great way to be detached from the number in your bank account. To detach from material possessions, using things until they absolutely need to be replaced (computers, clothes, phones, etc.) Or, just as easily, give things away.

3) Encounter the Poor

Probably the best way to live poverty is to actually encounter the poor. By encounter, I don’t mean the kind where you fly to another country, say “I’m so fortunate,” then come back and live the exact same lifestyle.

Encounter Christ in the poor. Serve the poor. Give them from your excess wealth and then from your need. Pray for the people you meet by name and let that encounter change you.

Ultimately, don’t let prosperity preachers bug you too much. Christ said those kinds of prophets would rise up. The riches of this world will fade, and God knows that. He wants to give you the riches of an eternal life spent with Him.

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