Sermon quotes on Poverty

Kofi Annan

Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.


Anonymous Citizen of Cameroon

[The poor have] a feeling of powerlessness and an inability to make themselves heard.

Deepa Narayan with Raj Patel, Kai Schafft, Anne Rademacher, Sarah Kock-Schulte, Voices of the Poor: Can Anyone Hear Us?, Oxford Univ. Press.


Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

Robert Banks

While American society is rich in goods, it is extremely time-poor. Many societies in the two-thirds world, by contrast, are poor in material possessions, by our standards, but they are rich in time. They are not driven or hurried. They live with a sense that there is adequate time to do what needs to be done each day.


To me, a faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with the poor…it’s nothing.


Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die

Frank Buchman

There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.


Edmund Burke

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.

Francis Chan 

God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.

G.K. Chesterton 

The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it.


Shane Claiborne 

I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor… I truly believe that when the rich meet the poor, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.

Charles Colson 

God cares not only about redeeming souls but also about restoring his creation. He calls us to be agents not only of his saving grace but also of his common grace. Our job is not only to build up the church but also to build a society to the glory of God. As agents of God’s common grace, we are called to help sustain and renew his creation, to uphold the created institutions of family and society, to pursue science and scholarship, to create works of art and beauty, and to heal and help those suffering from the results of the Fall.

Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert

The claim here is not that the poor are inherently more righteous or sanctified than the rich. There is no place in the Bible that indicates that poverty is a desirable state or that material things are evil. In fact, wealth is viewed as a gift from God. The point is simply that, for His own glory, God has chosen to reveal His kingdom in the place where the world, in all of its pride, would least expect it, among the foolish, the weak, the lowly, and the despised.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself, Moody Publishers. 

Albert Einstein

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

Brian Fikkert 

Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, so the solution to poverty is rooted in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection to put all things in right relationship again.

Mahatma Gandhi

There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

Mark R. Gornik

Here then from both James and Paul is a central witness drawn from all of Scripture: God has sovereignly chosen to work in the world by beginning with the weak who are on the ‘outside,’ not the powerful who are on the ‘inside.’

To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City, Eerdmans Publishing Company

Peter Greer 

Though the West’s efforts through international aid have been well-intentioned, they have often done more harm than good. By focusing on what the poor lack, instead of what they have, the underlying message sent to the poor is this: you are incapable.

George Herbert 

I never find “Blessed are the rich,” or “Blessed be the noble”’ but Blessed be the meek,” and, “Blessed be the poor,” and, “Blessed be the mourners, for they shall be comforted.”-And yet, O God!, most carry themselves so, as if they not only desired, but even feared to be blessed. 

George Herbert 

Poverty is no sin

Taken from Izaak Walton, Life of George Herbert


Eli Khamarov

Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

The marginalized and downtrodden receive special insights. They are the ones who can see the pain and the injustice that are killing the world. It is to these voices that we must turn

Embracing the Other

Martin Luther King Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Mark Lutz 

Jesus showed his solidarity with the poor through his teaching, parables and lifestyle. It is no coincidence that in his very first recorded message he referenced the poor… Imagine God incarnate making his human debut and selecting one message from the Hebrew scriptures to begin his teaching… ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’


Michel de Montaigne

Poverty of goods is easily cured; poverty of the mind is irreparable.

Mother Theresa

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.


Mother Theresa

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.

Bryant Myers 

Any transformational development that is not guided, empowered and made effective by the Holy Spirit will not prove sustainable. Furthermore, expecting and praying for supernatural interventions by the Spirit must be part of the spirituality of Christian development workers.

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, Orbis Books

Bryant L. Myers

Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, Orbis Books

John Ortberg 

The Spirit wants to make you threatening to all the forces of injustice and apathy and complacency that keep our world from flourishing.

David Platt 

Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to demonstrate the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

John Charles Salak

Failures are divided into two classes — those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought.


Source Unknown

His poverty was so great that He was born in another man’s house, and buried in another man’s tomb.

Charles Spurgeon 

A true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalog of necessities, an exposure of secret wounds, a revelation of hidden poverty.

Anne Swetchine

We are rich only through what we give: and poor only through what we refuse and keep. 

Jean Vanier

To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to live with Jesus.

William E. Vaughn

It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them.

Jim Wallis

The Bible insists that the best test of a nation’s righteousness is how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable in its midst.

Nicholas Wolterstorff

The lower classes  of society are not only disproportionately vulnerable to injustice, but usually disproportionately actual victims of injustice. Injustice is not equally distributed. One has to decide where lie the greatest injustices and where lies the greatest vulnerability. Other things being equal, one focuses one’s attention on those.

Justice: Rights and Wrongs, Princeton University Press.

Abraham Wright

I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness.

Calvin Miller

The world is poor because her fortune is buried in the sky and all her treasure maps are of the earth.

“The Finale.” Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 4

Calvin Miller

The world is poor because her fortune is buried in the sky and all her treasure maps are of the earth.

“The Finale.” Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 4

Mother Theresa

In the poorest of the poor we see Jesus in distressed disguise. (paraphrase)

In the Heart of the World

Herman Melville

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.

Peter Block

Talk to any poor person or vulnerable person and they can give you a long list of the services they have received. (editor’s note: one assumes in the West) They are well serviced, but you often have to ask what in their life has fundamentally changed.

Community: The Structure of Belonging, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018, p.12.

Jonathan Edwards

Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a more peremptory urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor?”

The Duty of Charity to the Poor

Jayakumar Christian

Poverty is the absence of linkages, the absence of connections with others.

Taken from Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch Copyright (c) 2013 p.23 by Andy Crouch. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Bruce Wydick

Effective work with the poor begins with understanding the nature and causes of poverty, understanding why different types of interventions have been ineffective and effective, discerning one’s role in the larger picture, and then carefully and patiently using this knowledge to partner with others in facilitating change.

Shrewd Samaritan: Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving Our Global Neighbor, Thomas Nelson, 2019.

Brian Fikkert and Kelly M. Kapic

The causes of poverty are extremely complex, and the solutions usually are unclear. To make matters worse, even followers of Jesus Christ do not have a shared understanding of what success in poverty alleviation looks like or how to get there. 

Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream, Moody Publishers, 2019.

Brian Fikkert and Kelly M. Kapic

Both the Old and New Testaments indicate that caring for the poor is one of the primary indicators of saving faith (Isa. 58:1–12; 1 John 3:17–18). Doing nothing is simply not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ.

Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream, Moody Publishers, 2019.

Celestin, A Very Poor Man In Rwanda

We were poor on the outside, but also on the inside, because poverty starts in the heart.

Quoted in Brian Fikkert and Kelly M. Kapic, Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream, Moody Publishers, 2019.

Dorothy Day

It is cheering to remember that Jesus Christ wandered this earth with no place to lay his head. “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” And when we consider our fly-by-night existence, our uncertainty, we remember (with pride in sharing the honor) that the disciples supped the seashore and wandered through cornfields picking the ears from the stalks wherewith to make their frugal meals.

Editorial in the first issue of The Catholic Worker, May 1993.

Peter Maurin

The Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods.

John R.W. Stott

At first to be ‘poor’ meant to be in literal, material need. But gradually, because the needy had no refuge but God, ‘poverty’ came to have spiritual overtones and to be identified with humble dependence on God….Thus, to be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, indeed our spiritual bankruptcy, before God. For we are sinners, under the holy wrath of God, and deserving nothing but the judgment of God.

Taken from The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7: Christian Counter-Cultureby John R.W. Stott Copyright (c) 1985 by John R.W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

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