Is it wrong to be rich?
Over the last several years, we’ve heard a lot about “the greedy rich” and “the 1%ers” who have the biggest salaries and have seemingly “unfair” amounts of wealth. These phrases are thrown around in the business world, in political speeches, and on news broadcasts…with the inference that it is wrong for someone to be at that income level.
In America, if you’re going to be part of the top 1% in annual salary, then you’d have to bring in over $434,000 every year. To be in the top 10% of American wage earners, your salary would be over $133,000 every year. Maybe you don’t fit into either category, and you don’t think of yourself as “rich”. That’s for someone else, right? Someone who can spend as much as they want whenever they want and not worry about it.
But the issue we’re subconsciously wrestling with whenever a “1%er” statement comes up is…Is it ‘wrong’ to be rich?
Ever wonder what God says about being rich? Is it a sin to make a lot of money? Is it sinful to have large amounts of money in the bank?
Before we get to Paul’s instructions to Timothy about Christians who have a lot of wealth, we need to clear something up. If we stop comparing our income to others in our town and instead look at the rest of the world, if we make more than $32,400 in a year (or $15.59/hour)…we’re in the top 1% globally. Also, “rich” in the ancient world meant that you had a house to call your own and extra disposable income to spend on lavish, unnecessary fun items. With our smart phones, cable TV, and cars, in addition to our air conditioning, clean water, and indoor plumbing…I think we do qualify as “rich”.
So, what does God think about us having so much?
1 Timothy 6:17-19
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 good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.
So, it’s not a sin to have money. It’s not a sin to have things or take pleasure in them. After all, God richly provides us with all things to enjoy. So, we shouldn’t feel guilty about going to the movies, or having an iPhone, or being able to afford a vacation.
From this text, we see that God’s more concerned with our attitude about our riches. If our wealth was suddenly gone, would we still sing about how good God is? If our future is uncertain, do we console ourselves with the amount in our bank account, or with the knowledge that God provided that money in our bank account to protect against emergencies?
Is our hope and security based on money or the One who gave us the money? That can be easy for us rich 1%ers to forget.