The Truth About Money
I am wealthy. Maybe not exactly in the American sense of gross income, but in the global, historical and biblical sense - I am incredibly wealthy. Beyond that, since I’m debt-free (thank you Dave Ramsey) I’m doing well even in the American senses. Gallup polling showed in 2013 that the global median household income was a little less than $10,000 with the median income of Americans being around $43,000. This means that the average American makes over four times more than the average person around the world. Even taking into account that that data is about five years old, many of us fall into the category of being wealthy and need to face that reality for the sake of our souls.
This reality of wealth is something we feel very awkward about as Americans. Few cultural faux pas are as bad asking someone how much they make or describing yourself as being rich. However, it’s important for we Christians in America to come to terms with the facts of wealth. Scripture gives stern warnings to the wealthy (i.e. Mark 10:17-31) that we often resist hearing by claiming that we’re not the wealthy individuals being addressed. We use this same denial to keep us from hearing the many biblical injunctions of caring for the poor, sacrificially giving, preventing injustice and so forth that can be overlooked if we refuse to accept the true state of our affairs. Sadly, until we do, we can’t realize our true potential in Christ. We will also fail to see great examples of wealthy men and women who acted nobly and received tremendous commendation in the Scriptures for how they used their wealth (i.e. Job, Abigail, Lydia).
Additionally, some American Christians have ignored the warnings and biblical examples of wealth to their detriment incurring large amounts of debt by be pretending to be wealthier than they are. These people are, in reality, incredibly poor, but refuse to come to terms with the truth of their predicament out of pride.
In the end, either version of refusing to accept one’s wealth reality and responsibilities is driven by pride. If we’re to begin dealing with our finances with humility, we have to face reality. One of the best definitions of humility I’ve ever heard is by Philip Brooks who said , “The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.”
As “unkosher” as it in our society, we need to learn to embrace and stand at our real financial height if we’re to rise to the true potential God has given us. This kind of humility in our finances offers us tremendous freedom and satisfaction. Freedom from envy in light of how much God has given us through Jesus. Freedom from fear knowing that everything we have comes from God’s generosity, not luck. Freedom to use our resources to right injustice. Freedom to follow the Lord’s leading to give and do so cheerfully. Satisfaction in that we can enjoy God’s provision without feeling guilty.
Facing our finances with humility offers many rewards. Rewards that, as Jesus described them, offer us the opportunity to build true wealth in heaven, “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20). Let’s face the reality of our present wealth so that some day in heaven, where it counts, we can honestly say, “I am wealthy.”