brown on green, A Regular column about finances
Most Americans would not describe themselves as rich. The median (half are higher and half are lower) household income in the United States is $68,500. A household would need to earn $201,000 annually to reach the 90th percentile of income in the U.S. At this level of income, the individual is wealthier than 90% of the households in the U.S. The 95th percentile is reached at $270,000; the 96th percentile at $295,000; the 97th is at $330,000; the 98th at $387,500; and the 99th at $531,500. So, most would say they are not rich.
However, if we evaluate income on a global level, we see a very different picture. A household only needs to earn $32,750 to reach the 90th percentile worldwide. This becomes even more dramatic as household incomes increase. Household income of $49,500 is in the 95th percentile; $55,500 the 96th percentile; $63,500 the 97th percentile; $70,000 the 98th percentile; and $99,000 the 99th percentile.
Are you rich? By global standards (see below), even those Americans with modest incomes are, in fact, rich.
The worldwide household median income is around $7,600 annually. Some countries fall far below the median. For instance, in Ivory Coast, the annual household income is $1,320.
Even American households at the poverty level fall into the 79th percentile worldwide. To demonstrate worldwide conditions, consider 70% of the world’s population cannot read, and this number is particularly low for women. Around 50% of the people in the world live in homes unfit for human occupation.
With this reality check in mind, how are we to manage our wealth? God’s Word offers good advice. In the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12, Jesus told listeners our lives do not consist in the abundance of possessions. It is simply untrue that “whoever dies with the most toys wins.” In Jesus’ story, a rich man hoards his abundance of crops and goods. God declares him a fool as he dies and states the same is true for anyone who lays up treasure for himself on earth but is not rich toward God. In 1 Timothy 6, we find additional instructions: we should never trust in our wealth, but rather, we should do good and be generous in what God has provided.
Rich? We each should evaluate our level of wealth on a worldwide scale. However, regardless of our income, we all should tithe. If the Lord has blessed you with wealth, then be generous toward God because He has blessed you to be a blessing to His work.
About the Columnist: David Brown is director of Free Will Baptist Foundation. To learn more about the grants program, visit www.fwbgifts.org.