Five Causes of Poverty in the Philippines, and their relation to Biblical Principles

Poverty is a rampant problem, not only in the Philippines, but also in the whole world. It is one of the most challenging, and also the primordial problem that exists in human society.

To sum up, for sure there are more than five factors that cause poverty to a country. The book Poverty of Nations confirms this idea, it is a well-researched and well-written book from an economic-protestant point of view. It affirms that there is no factor that can be singled out, but rather a combination of multiple ones. But if I were to condense it, I would name two general categories- (1) The mindset and (2) the ethics of the people of that country. First deals with the belief system which defines the government, the laws, the foreign and internal affairs. The second defines the ethos, the spirit, the mannerisms going in the society.

In the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, numerous articles emerged that point out poverty as one of the major causes of the Philippines’ lack of preparation for the catastrophe. Debates and online commotions has risen due to the big delays in response to the crisis in the Visayas.

In this article, I am not going to discuss my political views, nor whose to blame on all of the chaos, but to help us understand the causes of poverty, based from the words of the Author of Life Himself.

I am not also going to intend that being poor automatically means being evil. Economic poverty does not absolutely identify an individual that he is living a life against the will and the word of God. But on the other side of the fence, sustained economic poverty has its subtle yet sturdy roots from a life of a people living in a sustained unbiblical worldview and ethics.

When taken to a national level, we will see a big picture that economic poverty stems out from a collective unrighteousness among its citizens.

Below are verses that speak about poverty and economics. And yes, economics and spirituality are so connected to each other. Let me say in general that there is only one cause of poverty: sin. That’s it.

As a Filipino, these verses helped me see how we Filipinos disobey the Bible in ways that we can discern.

The relationship between poverty and the Philippines could be seen clearer under the lenses of the Sovereign Author of Economics Himself. This also shows us that disobedience leads a person to becoming poor.

1. Sustained Poverty is caused by continually idolizing pleasure.
“He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” Proverbs 21:17
Poverty is caused when people zealously hunger for pleasure and partying. Don’t get it wrong, but pleasure, party and the pursuit of happiness is not sinful in itself, but if we are to make that as the god of our life, and the idol of our hearts, then we are dethroning the most Worthy of All to rule our lives. A Filipino who is lazy to labour and to sacrifice, who only loves the pleasures of this world will surely end up in poverty. He who loves beer, wine and night clubs, living in revelry, street parties is a person who continually disobeys this command, unless otherwise he repents.

2. Sustained Poverty is caused by a spirit of greed.
“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” Prov 11:24
In a national scope, when individuals hoard their resources, the system also suffers. The economy of our world could be likened into a machine interconnected to each other. When greed prevails, the flow of exchange also decreases. When the people who have money keep it to themselves, others cannot receive also and loses the power to buy from others. Multiply that exponentially and bring that to a national level and you can identify a mosaic form of poverty. The flow of money is also factored by greed and generosity. I am not a registered economist, but if we take it logically, greed stops the flow of resources to one another’s hands, and thus leads to recession.

3. In His Sovereign Wisdom and Plan, He ordains some to be poor.
“The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.” 1 Samuel 2:7. It might be hard to accept to some, but God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants. We may disagree with that notion and insist our so-called choice, but Christ summarizes it all in the phrase, “without Me ye can do nothing.” Christ Himself said, “the poor will be with you always.” (Mark 14:7)

If that would be the case, why would be a loving God allow others to be poor? The answer comes from Paul when He said, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” 1 Corinthians 1:27. The Lord ordains weakness and allow poverty in the aspects of our lives to showcase His mercy, power, and glory through our weakness.

4. Poverty comes when a man loves sleep
“Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.”

Do not love sleep. If it is time to work, and you preferred to sleep instead of working, it’s surely a disobedience. Do not love it when you don’t need it. Grudge the time that you spend in it, and wish that you could live without it. Think if there has been a worthy activity that you might have done rather than sleeping. Think how unproductive you become, that your energies were only channeled to idle sleep and inactivity.

And of course, we need sleep because without rest, we cannot perform our duties well. Without rest, our bodies are thrown into sickness and our stewardship is placed to jeopardy. Open thy eyes and thou shalt be satisfied with bread; Do not let work opportunities to slip before you because you closed the lid of your eyes for sleep. Even you do not grow rich for not sleeping, yet you will have enough food to eat that will satisfy your hunger.

5. Drunkenness leads to poverty.
“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”

Drunkenness and gluttony is a destructive sin that we Filipinos may have seen growing up. We who grew in unbibilical families have seen how beer and smoking have become a norm during family gatherings. The Philippines is full of stories and examples of this sin and temptation. Young people must guard their lives away from this sin, and keep a distance from it.

One of the good things I saw in Thailand is that thier country prohibits the advertisements and commercials of alcoholic beverages. That should be a great proposal to our country too, seeing that thousands of families are destroyed by alcohol. Amidst all these turmoil, it is funny that the government does not prohibit its ads, even when many countries around the region had done it.

We Filipinos have grown accustomed with beer and alcohol that the darkness of the night in many towns and barrios are not complete without it. Fathers beat their children when they get drunk, crimes are committed, lives lost and lives broken, and majority are caused by drunkenness. Because of alcohol, many Filipino children are traumatized by its smells, and grew up having dysfunction within themselves because of the spirit of this witchcraft. Some grew up being drunkards as they have not seen any other example as they grow up.

Gluttony is also a rampant problem among a people who cannot see salvation from poverty. The poorer a man is, the more are his tendencies to be bondaged to his appetites and unhealthy food choices.

These two sins are very expensive not only financially but spiritually. It has the tendency to impoverish health, families and souls. The drunkard and glutton hate to be corrected and reformed, even though the Bible tells them it leads to shame and poverty, still nothing, even told that it leads to hell. Unless the Lord works supernaturally in the souls of them.

Drunkenness also leads to inactivity and unprofitability. It makes men stupid, absent-minded, uncareful in driving and leading, and all goes to ruin.

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