Contrary to a common misinterpretation, Jesus never said that money was the root of all evil. There is nothing wrong with money, with making money, or with being rich. The Bible does warn rich people that it is dangerous for your spiritual health to be wealthy, but it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. According to the Bible, one of the key uses of personal wealth should be to help others. An abiding principle throughout Scripture is that we are blessed in order to be a blessing to others.
Yet we live in a world that is as inequitable as it has ever been. The rich are so rich, and have skewed the economic systems in their own favour. And the poor continue to remain so. There are currently over 1 billion people who live on less than $2 a day – and most of them will die because of their poverty.
Back in 2000, the world’s governments got together and created a set of eight goals, called the Millennium Development Goals, with a target of halving global extreme poverty by 2015. We’re nearly at that target date now, and we are seeing some successes. The number of extremely poor people has in fact reduced in the last thirteen years. But probably the most important part of the MDGs was that they quantified what is required to end extreme poverty, putting a price tag on it. We know what needs to be done. We know how much it will cost.
And there’s the rub. Who will pay?
Well, Oxfam recently crunched the numbers and showed that the net income of the world’s 100 richest people for 2012 (not their overall wealth: just the $240 billion they earned last year) is enough to end extreme poverty not once, or twice, but four times over. Or, put another way, if the world’s richest 100 people gave just three months earnings to the efforts to end poverty, we’d have all the money we needed to achieve this goal.
By the way, the world’s richest 1% have seen their income grow by more than 20% during the financial crisis.
OK, so that’s quite an eyeopener. But you could easily tut tut at this point and write this off as someone else’s problem.
But what about you?
Well, how rich do you have to be to be one of the “world’s richest”? How rich are you? Go to this wonderful website, http://www.globalrichlist.com/, enter your annual income and it will show you where you stand in the world’s income list (yes, your ranking out of 7 billion people). If you’re in the top 20% (and I promise you that if you’re reading this, then you are), then this is YOUR issue to.
How rich do you have to be in order to have enough to help the poor? So what are you doing about it?
Here’s something you should hear more of in your church: you are richer than many other people, and therefore need to give them some of your money and wealth. God is not a capitalist, and neither should we be.