Why Wealth is Both a Blessing and a Temptation

"[T]he gift of wealth also presents unique temptation to trust in wealth over and against the provision of God." - IFWE

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Larry Nelson's picture

"The growth of income inequality has long been a hot topic around the globe, but it wasn't until the “Occupy” movement that the amount of wealth concentrated in the top 1% of society received so much attention.

Indeed, it's an incredibly powerful club. According to Oxfam, a leading poverty-fighting organization, eight men own as much wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest in the world, and one in ten people survive on less than $2 per day. Still, the top 1% consists of a lot more than just eight people.

This raises an interesting question: who exactly are the 1%? The surprising answer: if you’re an American, you don’t have to even be close to being uber-rich to make the list.

Ranking by Income

According to the Global Rich List, a website that brings awareness to worldwide income disparities, an income of $32,400 a year will allow you to make the cut.

So if you’re an accountant, a registered nurse or even an elementary school teacher, congratulations. The average wage for any of these careers falls well within the top 1% worldwide. 

Ranking by Wealth

The threshold is significantly higher if you look at the top percentile by wealth instead of income. To reach that status, you’d have to possess $770,000 in net worth, which includes everything from the equity in your home to the value of your investments."


Jim's picture

My primary care physician is a "trust fund baby" (in his own words)

His inherited wealth enabled him to go to medical school (obviously he had to have the smarts, the intentions, and the hard work!) without debt. He serves society as a healer. 

I have one niece who is independently wealthy. She is now 32. She is an only child. Her father inherited wealth (but worked as an engineer for a full career). She has a trust and will inherit probably $ 10M. She works full time. As to the wealth: she has a nearly $1M condo in Chicago and a home of like value in Cincinnati. My children (her 1st cousins) sometimes express wonderment at her lifestyle.


dgszweda's picture

A few comments:

In both cases, wealth is not being rejected out of hand. It can be and often is a divine blessing bestowed on those who faithfully pursue God’s call in their lives as diligent stewards of their gifts and circumstances.

Wealth is definitely a divine blessing, but Ecclesiastes (as well as real world experience), clearly show that it is not necessarily bestowed upon those who faithfully pursue God.  Just the simple example of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates shows that not to be the case.

Wealth is an extremely mysterious item, and the caution that Scripture places on it, should not be so lightheartedly shaken off.  While many people who do not have wealth, yearn to have some form of it in order to solve their problems, those who have wealth will clearly state it does not solve problems and it does not necessarily bring happiness.  Yes, you may not have to worry about some things, but even that should be a caution to those who have it, not to put confidence in it.

This biggest challenge around wealth is the constant worry.  When you have no wealth you worry about the bills and lack of income to meet your commitments and life's unexpected situations.  When you obtain wealth you worry about where to put it and how to protect it, in case you loose it.  You never get to a place where happiness is reach.  Which is frustrating for those seeking that happiness, and actually a hope for those who realize that our true happiness rests in Christ.

For those who are struggling financially, don't seek your solace in trying to get more money.  And those who have money, seek ways in which you can give it away for those who have needs.  Therein lies the balance.

Joeb's picture

You can be the richest man in the world and if you don’t have your health you have nothing.  I’d rather be on welfare and live as a poor man and have my health.  Now if you do have wealth it may help you over come some medical problems but not all.

 All the money in the world won’t buy your health in most situations.  All the money in the world won’t resolve chronic pain or heart problems or certain cancers or being disabled in an accident.  

Of course as a believer we should use everything God gives us for his glory.  I do believe God blesses certain believers with the ability to make money and many of these Christians use their wealth to honor God.  So there nothing sinful about being wealthy. 

Bert Perry's picture

Wealth reminds me, really, of the old advice to not fill your suitcase when traveling, and to use a smaller plate when eating if you're prone to overeating.  When it comes to money, our desires always seem to rise to our ability to house the stuff we're buying, or for that matter to the level of our ability (and beyond) to find storage for it.  Self-control--in food, stuff, whatever--is a hard nut to crack, and one of the best "gut checks" for this is to look at the various signs that you've got what you need, but perhaps far less of it than you can afford.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.