The Wealthy Christians Responsibility
I remember making my first $25. I was 13 years old. An older couple offered me the opportunity to mow their yard. It was the biggest milestone in my life up to that point. My first job. That following weekend, my dad helped me load our push mower into the back of his truck and he drove me over to the ‘job site’.
As we pulled up I realized that this yard was about the size of a few football fields, much bigger than a typical yard. After hours of dirt, sweat, and a not a few empty water bottles laying on the ground, I finished the job and was paid according to our agreement. I remember holding that money in my hand and thinking of all the different ways I could spend it. The choices seemed infinite. I didn’t want to spend my money on just anything; it had to be the right thing.
Standard of Wealth is Relative
The value of $25 isn’t what it use to be now that I’m in my thirties. Although the economy has changed a bit over the last 20 years, what has really changed is my perspective. The standard of wealth is relative depending on what you are comparing it to. At the age of thirteen one compares themselves to their peers and past experiences of having no money and feels rich. As adults we tend to compare ourselves with the guy down the street that lives in the $800k house and has multiple cars and a boat and we feel poor. If you’ve ever been to a developing country, you can probably relate to the sudden awareness, of coming from a place of privilege and wealth. To most of us, $25 is just pocket change; lunch and maybe a few coffees. To someone in another part of the world it is a week’s wages.
Average Christian American Wealth
If you live in the United States you are probably rich, even if you don’t feel like you are. If you are a Christian you are more likely to be rich. A recent report shows professing Christians hold 55% of the world’s wealth!1 Guess where the vast majority of those wealthy Christians live. Let’s just say it rhymes with ‘Merica. Said another way, American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth.
To quote Richard Stearns in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel,
If your income is $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than approximately 90 percent of the world’s population! If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world! Does this shock you? Remember, of the 6.7 billion people on earth, almost half of them live on less than two dollars a day.2
Our Responsibility in Advancing the Gospel
In ending the parable of the good servant and the evil servant Jesus says,
For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)
Much has been committed to us by our heavenly Father. Have you ever stopped to think why we have been given so much? Are we more loved by God than the rest of the world? Certainly not! Are we going to be so brash as to say it came from our own doing and we deserve it? Scripture is clear on this point,
Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:17–18)
God is the one who gives us wealth. If God gives us wealth, then the next question is why does he give it to us? The second part of Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us why. God gives wealth to fulfill his covenant that he made with Abraham (“your fathers”). The covenant God made to Abraham was to bless all the nations of the earth.
In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. (Genesis 22:18)
Paul taught that this blessing to the nations was salvation and justification through the gospel,
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8)
God gave wealth to Israel in order to establish his covenant of salvation for the nations and God gives wealth to us for the same reason.
We have been placed in this critical hour of history with such an abundant amount of resources at our disposal so that nations would be blessed with the gift of salvation through our giving. Whether we realize it or not, God has given North American Christians a great weight of responsibility.
A Word on Money and Missions
God has indeed blessed us in America with great abundance in comparison to the rest of the world and we have an enormous responsibility to use it for his glory and purposes. But let us not get the impression that money is all the Lord wants from us.
He does not want your money, he wants your heart. If he has your heart in complete surrender, he has everything, money included. This is what truly makes a difference in the Kingdom of God. To quote Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China,
No amount of money can convert a single soul; what is needed is that men and
women filled with the Holy Ghost should give themselves to the work: for the support of such there will never be a lack of funds.3
Let us give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord and take our responsibility as Western Christians to fund the great commission with all seriousness and faithfulness.
1. “Which Religion Holds the Largest Share of Wealth?” CNBC. January 14, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2015.
2. Stearns, Richard. The Hole in Our Gospel. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
3. “Chapter 19 The Formation of the C.I.M.” In The Autobiography of Hudson Taylor: Missionary to China. GLH Publishing.