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By Jim Killebrew

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[November 13, 2014]  As we look around the world in this twenty-first century we have to conclude there is tremendous complexity to the dynamics of living, in any society. The earth's population at the end of 2013 was 7.125 Billion souls; and is growing at 1.2 percent annually. That means the population of the world is growing at a net rate of over 8.5 million people per year. Of those, there are just over one billion people living in poverty by not having any more than an average of $1.25 per day on which to live.

In many of the developing countries there continues to be a struggle between the rich and the poor. A major factor is the inability for the poorest to escape the poverty by having an almost non-existent opportunity to move up from the poverty level. In many cases there is little access to education, healthcare, electricity, safe water and other services that are needed to live in a modern society. Economies remain stagnant and have settled for the poorest to the bottom level. Daily struggles keep the poorest challenged to simply find enough food for the day. Food and shelter become the luxury as many thousands perish from the elements and a lack of nutrition.

By contrast the American culture has poverty, even though poverty is devastating in any society, the devastation level of poverty in America is not as crushing as the poverty experienced in the developing countries. Poverty in America is more akin to the middle class economy in many developing nations; in some cases due to the access Americans have to governmental and private sources of charitable organizations, the poverty in America does not result in the high mortality rates as in those developing countries. Since the "War on Poverty" initiated by President Lyndon Johnson in the mid 1960s there has been Trillions of dollars spent to decrease the effects of poverty on American citizens. The poverty rate fell down to 14.5 percent at the end of 2013, which was a reduction from about 15 percent at the end of 2012. Even so, the number of American citizens who live in poverty continues to be around 45.3 million people.

There is no doubt about the fact of poverty in our world. It exists now and has always existed in our world. We can declare war on it, we can establish significant programs to try to alleviate it, we can redistribute the wealth in our country, or around the world, but poverty is real because it is part of the human condition. There are millions of children who are living in poverty around the world who did not make any decision on their own to place them in that condition. There are many physically disabled people in the world who are living in poverty through no fault of their own. There are many people who are in poverty because of circumstances over which they have absolutely no control.

However, there are also a great number of people around the world and our own country who live in poverty, but could do something about the condition in which they live. Poverty has been around so long that it is not that difficult to understand why it exists. In fact, one can go back several millennia to the wise King Solomon and read some of his writings that recorded many of his observations of life and human interactions. From those recordings of observations several principles that explain the consistent presence of poverty emerge. Take a look at several of the principles outlined by an antiquity King.

"The wealth of a rich person is like a fortified city, but the poor are brought to ruin by their poverty." (Proverbs 10:15) The rich are always going to maintain their wealth. Even when the government decides they need to pay more of their "fair share" they will fortify their wealth by moving it out of the grasp of the government to protect it from confiscation. The poor will only sink deeper into poverty since they have no resources to protect what little they do have.

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"One person is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds more than he should and comes to poverty." (Proverbs 11:24) The rich get richer; the poor get poorer.

"The one who neglects discipline ends up in poverty and shame, but the one who accepts reproof is honored." (Proverbs 13:18) Without making plans for the future and without putting something aside for a "rainy day" the poverty will eventually take over. The one who stores up for the emergencies in life will have the resources needed when strife or calamity descend on the household. Living for today without having the discipline prepare for tomorrow only makes the reckoning much more difficult.

"In all hard work there is profit, but merely talking about it only brings poverty." (Proverbs 14:23) The American work ethic of working hard, saving for the future, living by the sweat of one's brow will gather the "nest egg" and help make the future brighter. The best laid plans that are only talked about without taking the actions and the risks will only bring disaster. One big plan after another that becomes only a bragging scheme will never accomplish anything but deepened poverty.

"The plans of the diligent lead only to plenty, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty." (Proverbs 21:5) Consistent working each and every day, month after month, year after year will eventually lead to a greater chance of economic security in old age. But the "fly-by-night" schemes of the "get-rich-quick" crowd generally comes falling down around the head of the talker.

"The one who oppresses the poor to increase his own gain and the one who gives to the rich both end up only in poverty." (Proverbs 22:16) This is like friends who are friends during the good times, when the honey and wine is flowing there is the gathering of friends to enjoy the party. When the richness is squandered away with unrighteous living and excesses of pleasures, the individual will soon be eating the husks given to the pigs.

"'A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to relax, and your poverty will come like a bandit, and your need like an armed robber.' (Proverbs 24:33) Living the "good life" in the dawn of the day by seeking after the party, not paying attention to resources, failing to work hard to gain skills and jumping from one job to another, or just participating in leisure activities will eventually end in poverty. The person will likely never know it is happening until he wakes up from his nap to discover he has nothing.

"The one who works his land will be satisfied with food, but whoever chases daydreams will have his fill of poverty." (Proverbs 28:19) Our harvest will be the result of what we plant. Hard work, lots of planning, doing a good job, being satisfied with enough rather than going to extremes, and following after foolishness with dreamed-up "get rich quick" schemes will only lead to poverty.

These principles have been around for thousands of years. Violation of any or all of them provide each generation with proof positive that what Jesus said is the Truth: "We will always have the poor among us."


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