Many American Christians are rich. You may not feel rich or think of yourself as well-off given recent economic challenges, but you are. When you consider the global economy, not how you stack up with the people in your community – it changes your perspective. A recent news article on philanthropy, coupled with a new calculator based on global wealth standards, underscores the conclusion in my opening sentence. Many American Christians are rich.

For example, if your annual after-tax income is $60,000 and you do not have any children, you are in the richest 1% of the world’s population.  If your annual after-tax income is $160,000 and your household has two adults and two children, you are also in the richest 1% in the world.1  If you make less or have a different number of children, use this calculator to see where you rank on the global economy.2  You may be surprised, no matter your income level, how high you rank when compared to people around the world.

The secular organization which created these tools is challenging Americans, based on their global wealth ranking, to more generous giving to solve global problems. Specifically, they are challenging Americans in the top 1% of global income to give 10% of their after-tax income to reputable charities. If Americans did this, they estimate their annual charitable giving would be $3.5 trillion. That’s trillion, not billion or million. That’s a lot of money – every year – to fund charitable organizations.

How amazing! The world has discovered tithing. God’s giving plan has always rested on percentage giving – commonly called tithing. While some Christians debate its meaning, most people understand tithing is giving away 10% of our income. Most Christians who tithe give it to their local church, with additional offerings going to special projects, causes, or other organizations. God’s economy is based on many people giving a little, not a few giving a lot. It values proportional giving and shared sacrifice over large donations from a few benefactors.

When the Bible warns the rich about misusing their resources, it is speaking to many American Christians. 

Many American Christians forget God is a global God and his Word addresses a global audience. When the Bible warns the rich about misusing their resources, it is speaking to many American Christians.  We are the global rich – with incomes in the top 1%. While we may not feel rich when compared to others in our cultural context, we must shift our perspective. When God speaks through the Bible, he is speaking to a global audience. When he singles out the rich and warns them about misusing resources, he means the global 1% – not the American 1%.

Most surveys show Evangelicals give, on average, about 2-3% of their income away each year. That’s sad in any context, and disgraceful in a global context. Imagine the trillions we would have to send missionaries, start churches, grow churches, improve schools, house orphans, build hospitals, and on and on if American Christians practiced tithing.

Secularists are now advocating what we are supposed to have been practicing for centuries – percentage giving that changes the world. May God help us to change our perspective and heed his warnings about rich Christians wasting his financial blessings.

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