What does Christianity teach about wealth and poverty?

Christianity teaches that there is nothing wrong with wealth in itself. What is wrong is desiring or craving wealth. In Timothy, it states:

… for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:10

Many Christians believe people should use their wealth to help those who have less than they have. Humans have a duty to help each other as all are members of a global family.

The Old Testament prophet Amos preached God’s message to the people of Israel. He had a lot to say about social justice and the way certain groups of people in society were treated. Those with wealth or influence were corrupt and unfair, taking advantage of the more vulnerable people in society such as the poor, foreigners, widows and orphans.

Let justice flow like a stream and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.Amos 5:24

In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus taught that people should help those in need - whether they are hungry, thirsty, sick or alienated from society. To help those in need is the same as helping Jesus:

I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!Matthew 25:31-46

In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus addressed issues of racial prejudice and discrimination. A Jewish man who was attacked and left for dead was ignored by two of his own people, yet it was a hated Samaritan who cared for him. Jesus concluded with the words:

'Which of these three men acted like a neighbour toward the man attacked by the robbers?’ The teacher of the Law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him.' Jesus replied, ‘You go, then, and do the same.’ Luke 10:25-37

What does Bible teaching mean in practice?

Christians should act with compassion to less fortunate people. They believe that life is sacred and that God loves every human being. Christians apply these beliefs to the question of wealth and poverty in different ways.

The Roman Catholic Church - The Roman Catholic Church is often criticised for its wealth when so many people live in absolute poverty. The Church owns valuable property and art. Some argue that it should give more of its wealth away to the less fortunate. However, some Christians argue that the Bible teaches that there is nothing wrong with wealth in itself. It is greed that is wrong.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the poor represent those who are marginalised in society. Jesus himself taught the importance of helping those who are poor and in need. The Church also teaches about the preferential option for the poor – this means that in order to improve life for the poor, we should speak for the voiceless and defend the defenceless.

Liberation Theology

This is a movement within the Roman Catholic Church. It began in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s in response to poverty in Brazilian society. It is based on the teaching of loving one's neighbour.

Christians working in this movement focus on helping those who live in poverty. They believe that poverty is the single most important issue faced by people in today's world as it leads to all sorts of disadvantages relating to health, education and participation in society.

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) - The Religious Society of Friends believes in putting faith into action. Quaker Peace and Social Witness is a member of the Close the Gap global campaign. As part of this campaign Quakers try to reduce the inequality between the rich and the poor, including in the UK.

The Quakers support their ideals with reference to Luke:

… He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. Luke 1:46-55