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15 Bible Verses About Helping the Poor You Need to Know

“…For the poor will never cease from the land…” – Deuteronomy 15:11. This is one of many Bible verses about helping the poor, a major theme within the Bible. Jesus famously said in Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This statement can best applied in how we treat the poor.

bible verses about helping the poorDeuteronomy 15:11 says that the poor will always be with us. The world cannot escape it. We can try through economic and political systems to pull people out of poverty and create an environment where they can better themselves. But even the best system that leads to prosperity for many can’t reach everyone.  There will never be an instance in this present life when someone somewhere isn’t experiencing poverty.

Because of that, we should consider all manner of ways in which we might go about helping the poor.

God clearly has a special place in his heart for the poor. His words about the poor are littered throughout the pages of the Bible. So today, we are going to look at 15 powerful Bible verses about helping the poor that show us how we might best meet their needs.

Old Testament Bible Verses About Helping the Poor

These verses capture the essence of how God feels about the poor and what the Bible says about helping them:

Exodus 22:25

“If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest.”

One of the first verses in the Bible about the poor is tied to the issue of debt. God did not want his people taking advantage of a poor man by charging excessive interest. Oh wait, check that…they were to charge the poor no interest at all. Loaning the money was fine, but the lender was not to expect anything back other than the original loan amount. God stated this command again in Leviticus 25:36-37.

Leviticus 19:10

“And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”

Here we see God providing a way for the poor to find food. He instructed the farmers to not pick every single grape from their grapevine. Instead, they were to leave a few behind so the poor could come in after the workers had left and glean from the leftovers.

Leviticus 23:22 gives instructions to grain farmers regarding this issue – “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger.” Additionally, we see this concept put into practice in how Boaz allowed the widow Ruth to gather food in his fields (Ruth 2:1-17)

Related Content: 13 Encouraging Bible Verses for Men

Leviticus 25:35

“If one of your brethren becomes poor and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.”

By using the phrase “falls into” the Bible here seems to be addressing accidental poverty. Sometimes a life event could happen that might cause someone to become poor. (See the story of Job in the Bible.) Maybe it was their fault but maybe it wasn’t. Either way, God instructs his people to not reject those who become poor. Instead reach out to support them. Perhaps even provide a place for them to live for awhile as they get back on their feet.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10-11

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”

Perhaps no other series of verses in the Bible so clearly illustrates and describes the nature of our heart attitude toward the poor as these in Deuteronomy. We are called to be sensitive to their situation and are challenged to not harden our heart to them. That sensitivity leads to a giving spirit…and not just any giving spirit. It’s a beautiful picture the Bible paints of our hands being open wide, signifying a generous spirit of giving to their need.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15

“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy…each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you.”

This addresses employers who might be tempted to withhold payment to their employees for work rendered. The poor of the day counted on receiving a day’s wage for whatever work they performed. They “set [their] heart on it.” They needed it to survive. God says the employer has no right to withhold it from them even for a day.

Psalm 9:18

“For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.”

The poor feel they have been forgotten – that no one is remembering their plight. But God does remember. He offers encouragement and hope that He will see their situation in time.

Related Content: 8 Bible Verses About Worry for All Life Situations

Psalm 41:1

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”

Helping the poor would appear to bring a blessing to those who do. In this verse in Psalms we see that the Lord promises his assistance to those who have remembered the poor. The book of Proverbs shows similar outcomes of blessedness,

“…He who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Prov. 14:21

“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” Prov. 22:9

 Proverbs 14:31

“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors him has mercy on the needy.”

The word reproach means to address someone in such a way as to express disapproval or disappointment. Synonyms could be “reprimand,” “rebuke,” or “chide.” Do we really want to go there with God by oppressing the poor? He is the “Maker” the verse references. Are we so arrogant that we think God made a mistake when he created the poor? I don’t think so. They are equally loved beings worthy of respect and honor.

Proverbs 22:22-23

“Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; For the Lord will plead their cause, and plunder the soul of those who plunder them.”

Many times people take advantage of the poor simply because they can. The poor have less access to resources, knowledge, and information about how things are supposed to work. Consequently, that information deficiency (and situational experience) create opportunities for those in-the-know to exploit the poor for money or whatever else they need. Needless to say, God does not look kindly on those who do this.

Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into the future in this prophecy about the coming Messiah – Jesus Christ. Jesus would quote this passage (see Luke 4:16-22) at the outset of his ministry while preaching in the synagogue in his hometown. The words that followed his recitation launched his ministry as he said to the gathered audience, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Some didn’t like that boldness. However, Jesus clearly defined his mission – which included speaking to and interacting with the poor.

Related Content: 12 Short Bible Verses That Pack a Powerful Message

Zechariah 7:10

“Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”

Zechariah challenges us to not oppress widows, orphans, strangers and the poor. Do not direct an evil thought toward those who feel like outcasts and are alone because of some a life altering event.

New Testament Bible Verses About Helping the Poor

Matthew 19:21

“Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.”

This passage comes from an encounter Jesus had with a rich young ruler. The big idea message isn’t so much about helping the poor. Rather it is what are the personal issues that come between us God. For the rich man it was his great wealth. He couldn’t let it go even to help the needy and, in the end, it cost him a special opportunity.

Luke 14:12-14

“Then He [Jesus] also said to him who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you…”

Jesus is challenging our motives with this party example. We love to hang with friends or people of status. However, sometimes we do so to gain their favor, looking for something in return. Jesus says that a party invitation to the poor reveals our heart is in the right place. We are truly seeking to bless them for they literally cannot return the favor.

Galatians 2:10

“They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”

After the church began the apostles faced persecution, trials and interestingly enough doctrinal issues. One of the biggest controversies was whether or not the new believers in Christ (some of whom were Gentiles) had to convert to Judaism and practice certain Jewish rituals. The apostle Paul didn’t believe conversion to Judaism was necessary for salvation.

The church leaders at large eventually reached the same conclusion. They commissioned Paul to preach the message of salvation and in doing so remember the poor. Paul tells us here in Galatians it was always his desire to do so. If it was important to Jesus and Paul it should be important to us.

Related Content: 12 Bible Verses About Friendship That Will Make You a Better Friend

James 2:2-4

“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool.’ Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Finally, these verses in James address the subject of showing favoritism to the wealthy over the poor. James says it’s wrong to place the wealthy in special places of honor and subject the poor to lower places of honor. We should treat everyone equally. Interestingly enough, the Bible also says that favoritism going in the direction of the poor over the wealthy is wrong. Exodus 23:3 says, “You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.” Leviticus 19:15 also addresses this issue by saying, “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.” So don’t show favoritism in either direction – to the poor or to the wealthy.


When it comes to the poor, it’s easy to look the other way and ignore their plight. We get so wrapped up in our own lives, we forget there are people who are less fortunate than us.

As you can see and as we stated at the beginning, God has a special place in his heart for the poor. Because God cares for them so much, we should demonstrate the same attitude. And by doing so, we show the love of God to them as so many advocates for the poor down through history have done.

Questions: What verses stand out to you? Why do you think God has such a special place in his heart for the poor? What are you doing to reach out to the poor in your neighborhood or around the world? What other Bible verses about helping the poor can you think of?

Image by Wayne S. Grazio at Flickr Creative Commons

Related Content: Mother Teresa: A Life Inspired

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  1. Psm 41 :1 speaks better

  2. Alfred Alim Morulem says

    We should not turn our backs on others , but instead we should be looking out for other people .

    • This is so true Alfred and was the heart of Jesus’ message. Love God and love others…that’s the essence of the Scripture. If we do those two things, we will do well.

  3. Is there any verse in the bible when Jesus talked about repaying him by giving to the poor?

    • I think Matthew 25:34-40 might be something to look at…”whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

    • Charmaine says

      Proverbs 19:17 “ He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”

    • Oh gosh yes, but maybe not what your thinking. I’m only responding because it just happened to me today. Listen to this. My SUV was repoed this morning I was so upset but my bank covered my hundreds negative so I was able to pay my past due pymts anyway I’m in a 7/11 this guy in front of me had to leave what ever he bought as his debit card would not work I just thought I needed to help him so I nudged him saying don’t worry I got this for you, he was so so happy but wait it gets better then I felt the lord nudge me like not only do that but take out ten dollars cash and give it him, I think he wanted to cry he was so happy ok now here comes the blessings, my boss gave me a advance but also decided to throw in ten dollars cash so I could take the bus home since I still didn’t have a car,she didn’t know what I had just done at the store an hour earlier so I get on the bus and I rode my bike and the driver says bike rack is full put your bike next to your seat and don’t worry about paying the ten dollar fee. I was floored, Gods rewards instantly sometimes. And doubles it occasionally. God bless, Amen.

  4. gregory anderson says

    Thank you for this great article. It is a necessary review for some, and mind-numbing glimpse of reality for others. One of the greatest complaints the God of Israel had against those he had of former days appointed to be His own people, was how they treated the poor, the needy, the strangers and aliens in their midst. Many who claim to be Jesus’ disciples must pull their heads out of the 21st century and allow God to train them to think with their renewing mind as citizens of the Kingdom of God.
    You cannot sell the poor for a pair of sandals and claim to have your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

  5. Okafor Maria says

    Hallelujah, love this verses so much especially Luke 14:12 – 14, I pray God will help us and give us d zeal to be useful to d needers nd not to be self – centred in Jesus name

  6. charles mrema says

    Very nice message , there is a village somewhere in Africa beds for patients are not enough , i saw pregnant women sleeping down more than 10 ,I pray someone will see this and do something. God bless you all and lets pray that there is peace in the world .

    • I have yet to find a verse that says to help the poor in land other than your own. I’m not talking about missionaries who go to other countries and spread the gospel, that I can see lining up with the bible. It is the many dollars and donations and time spent giving to other countries rather than in your own town in your own county your own state. Bible is very specific when he orders those to help the need. We have so many Bible’s in the United States that it has lost it’s importance, there are so many churches in every town in the U.S that it has become a cliquish self absorbed routine appearance it has lost track of purpose when the bible talks about the the church being the body what does that mean does that mean your church only like ok we got 150 regulars who show up Sundays and wed. So I’m gonna be the head and you guys be the arms and help someone today k make some one a sandwich and you over there gather up your friends and form one leg and you guys over there be the other leg and do the foot work for the church….. I don’t think so I mean I’m no bible guru but I’m pretty sure the means believers as a whole how many churches in your town put religion and church aside and put Christ as purpose and get with other churches and come together and put the the light of Jesus with in the ppl of your church with other churches so you can shine brighter and so that the lost and empty and the dead amongst your town hiding in darkness can no longer because together you have all come together and lit the town up in the THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT OF JESUS

      • Sherry Taylor says

        I think that Good says he made us in his imagine. That means every race, of every country not just your own. So that said I believe God is talking about all people who are poor, should receive our help. Not just your Town City or State or your country. This is what I take from the Bible.

        • Sherry Taylor says

          I think that God says he made us in his imagine. That means every race, of every country not just your own. So that said I believe God is talking about all people who are poor, should receive our help. Not just your Town City or State or your country. This is what I take from the Bible.

      • I agree a whole lot with Sherry Taylor.
        You only need to look at how Jesus lived his life, how he preached the gospel to all people of different ethnicities (e.g The Samaritan woman at the well) and gentiles and how he cared and loved upon them and ultimately giving his life for ALL people. So if Jesus gave his life for all people, that’s all the more reason for you to love and care for them too whether they’re in your country or somewhere else. You don’t necessarily have to look for a bible verse to back up what YOU THINK but it’s actually looking at the bible in a way that allows the word of God to tell you WHAT TO THINK. If that makes sense. God bless, love you! #unity 😊

  7. The Lord in His infinite mercy has called me into the ministry of caring for the poor after I had served a while as a local church’s pastor. I’m not putting this calling as been better or superior to others but I must tell you that the joy and fulfillment I find now wasn’t there when I was teaching it like now that I’m doing it. The joy of putting smiles on the faces of the poor, the widows and especially the children, I just don’t have words to describe it. The blessing that follows is also a prove of God’s faithfulness to His promises. Praise God. I’m convinces that there is no service to God without service to humanity according to Mattew 25:31-46. God bless you all

    • Tia Cordorado says

      The terms used in this parable are clear.

      “Good Shepherd” is matched by “sheep” which is referring to Christ and his followers. Goats are non believers. Additionally, verse 40 refers to “brothers of mine.” Here, Christ refers to those of us who became like family members, by choosing to follow him, as we are one in Christ Jesus.

      The “least of these” is not referring to those who are outside the flock, but refers to our brothers and sisters in Christ who need help, are sick, need prayer, comfort, need a meal, etc.

      • The Goats in Jesus’ parable cannot be “non-believers” in the Modern sense; unless you equally would think all Americans are Christians.
        We must be careful not to twist what Jesus says to match our own biases, bigotry, and sub-cultural traditions.
        The Goats in question could not have been not pagans or Gentiles, nor despised Samaritans, Moabites, etc.
        Jesus himself told certain Jews (convinced they were the children of God) that their “father” was not Abraham as they claimed but rather was the Devil.
        Jesus even said there were sheep who not of “this fold” whom he would gather altogether into one flock.
        Now, everyone is perfectly free to say, teach or preach anything they want to according to their own perfect wisdom and knowledge. But be very, very cautious when you claim “Thus saith the Lord” that actually the Lord truly saith such. Okay?

        • I love your post. Came here looking for an inspirational quote on the poor from the Bible, and I find comfort in seeing that there are still decent people around.


    I am being recognized today for my community service and it’s good, but I want only to be recognized in my Heavenly Father’s eyes for there is no greater gift than that…All for your Glory Lord 😇 Thanks for your blog I will be using it tonight…GBY

  9. Hi mates, its great paragraph regarding cultureand entirely defined, keep it up all the time.

  10. M S Kumar Babu says

    All these verses from the scriptures arte very useful. Try to explore and keep some more relevant verses.

  11. Thanks for this great post. I think we get wrapped up in our own financial issues sometimes that we forget that we should be helping others.

  12. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    I like the Psalm 41:1. I always try to reach out to the poor as much as I can and if there’s an opportunity to help them, I don’t think twice and am glad that I can help them even with smallest things because they are appreciative.

  13. I love this verse “Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.” I am not necessarily helping the poor but I am definitely serving a group with minimal to little wealth and I think about verses like this because I know it’s what I’m called to do. I have made less helping others with less, but I always feel taken care of because I know I am doing the work that I am meant to do.

  14. Excellent post and list. These are things we need to remember throughout the whole year, not just during the holiday season.

    • “…remember throughout the whole year…” That’s true Cat…we need better consistency. It seems like we get really focused on it around the holidays and forget about it the rest of the year.

  15. The Word of God is filled with a scriptures teaching us how to treat the less fortunate among us. That is why I do no understand the philosophy of many in the Republican party. The poor are vilified and whenever they are looking to save money it is from programs that help the children, poor and elderly. I think it is high time Congress reads and obeys the Bible. We cannot merely say we are believers. We have to walk the walk. Luke 6:46 – Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

    • “…whenever they are looking to save money it is from programs that help the children, poor and elderly.” I can understand why that seems like it’s the case. On the other hand, you could argue that many practices of the Democratic party are designed to keep people in poverty. As an example, giving people consistent welfare checks only makes them more dependent on the government and does nothing to help them out of their situation. Reform is definitely needed on both sides I’d suggest.

  16. Thanks. I think many of these things point out that we need to empathize and not turn our backs on others, but instead we should be looking out for other people.

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