According to a recent CNN article, about half of the top 1 percent or the “rich” of the world live in the the USA. This is a message of blessing from God and a significant responsibility for everyone this represents, including the 29 million people in the USA (about 10% of its population).
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul gives this group specific instruction: Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
The instruction is clear here… don’t hoard it or lavishly spend money on yourself, use the gift as an opportunity to serve others. Your faith should have a significant impact on the way you use your funds outside of yourself.
A message to the other 90 percent of Americans: keep in mind that to be in the top 50 percent of income in the world, your income only needs to be $1,225 a year or about $100 per month! In the grand scheme of things, even the poorest 5 percent of Americans are better off financially than two thirds of the entire world.
The next chart is surprising.
People in the US only give about 3% of their income to charity and the percentage doesn’t change much as across income. You would expect that as income increases, the percentage available for charity should also increase, but this is clearly not the case. As income increases, something happens that prevents an increase in the percentage of funds given to charity. (link to chart source)
Why do you think this is?
This reality might come from the information in the third chart from mint.com. This chart reveals that perception of wealth is different from reality of wealth. Even though it only takes an income $34,000 per person to be in the top 1 percent of the world, 70% of Americans think that it takes at least $100,000 per year income to be rich. The higher the income you have the higher income you think is needed to be rich. How much money do you need to be rich? Just a little more!
With all this talk of money, the apostle Paul has instruction for both rich and poor who are distracted by money, “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” (1Tim. 6:9-10).
As the New Year starts, let’s examine our hearts and consider the amount of effort that we devote to money. Is the extra effort to glorify God, expand his kingdom, to share with those in need? Or is it so that we can get to a point where we don’t need to rely on God, to have extra things for ourselves, or to impress those around us?
Why do you think that people are so distracted by an insatiable desire for riches?