A couple of years ago I read a book by Mohammed Yunus. He had received the Nobel Prize for his efforts fighting poverty in Bangladesh, which is one of the poorest countries of the world. I suppose the book is also available in English. It was originally published in French: “Vers un monde sans pauvreté. L’autobiographie du banquier des pauvres”.
He had been a well-paid professor of economics. Yet he came to observe what life of the poor people in his country was really like. They might get some loan from somebody. Thereafter they would have to work hard all their lives just to be able to pay the interest demanded of them.
I would call this a brand of modern slavery. These individuals totally depended on the grace of their loan giver. They would never be able to return the little sum they had received. They would be poor forever. They would have to work hard. They were to give – in their eyes – horrendous sums of money just to meet the requirements of their loan giver.
In my last post I started writing about giving and love based on 1 Corinthians 13:3. The above description is an example of giving without love.
- These loan givers were providing money, yes. But they remained the owners of that money.
- They knew the poor recipients would never be able to repay. They demanded them to pay interest. By that they gained a ‘regular’ income perhaps until those recipients of loans died.
- The poor people had to accept the conditions dictated by the rich.
- The rich could take advantage of the poor.
Giving ought to be done without selfish motives. That is the teaching of the bible. Giving loan for usury is forbidden in the bible.
Mr. Yunus began giving interest free loans to poor women. He did so to help them meet their own needs. He wanted to help them towards an independent life. Whenever they could afford it they would pay back the money they had received. The bank he founded proved to be a successful instrument in fighting poverty.
In this post I am chiefly concerned with the conditions Mr. Yunus observed before he developed his plan to improve living conditions. In my estimation giving to the poor and the hungry in order to take advantage of them is not a Christian way of giving: “If you will do whatever I will desire of you, I will give you some morsel of food to soothe your pains!”
The bible teaches us that God is very sensitive to the way we are dealing with the poor and the needy. On judgment day God will say: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45/NIV). And to some others: “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40/NIV).
In 1 Corinthians 13:3 St. Paul says: “If I give all I possess to the poor… but have not love, I gain nothing.”
A way of giving that seeks to make the recipients a brand of slaves is far short of the requirements of the bible. Any giving individual who thereby seeks to rule into the lives of poor people is not in line with the teaching of the bible.