To me, this is the chapter. This is the chapter that we all need to not just read, but to live. If you are one of the individuals who bought the book but haven’t began or finished reading or life got too busy (it does that sometimes). Just sit down and read this chapter. Just this one.
If I could just quote Rich again and again and again, I’d do it. Because there is absolutely nothing that I can say or clarify that does justice to the point he has hammered home. It’s time for us to do something. Tangible. Sacrificial. To give. Our money.
Yes, that’s right. Money. Ack! We shrink back, do we not? Someone so bold as to say, “Give your money!”? I mean this is why people hate the church right? Because we’re all just so money hungry, all we do is talk about money, we want your money??? Right? Wrong.
Jesus wants your life. He wants you to know He loves you and died for you in a real and tangible way. But Jesus also, never hesitated to talk about money. “Fully 15 percent of Jesus’ recorded words dealt with money, more than what He said about heaven and hell combined” (Rich). There is a direct line to our relationship with money and our spiritual health, Jesus knows it, Rich knows it, we all know it.
Money is powerful. And in this chapter I realized that when we say our giving can change the world, it’s not just for a plea to get our money, it’s reality. It is indeed fact.
Once Rich can get us past the emotional barrier that we do need to tithe, 10 percent, he starts stating some of the pertinent facts of our reality vs the reality of the world. While we may not see ourselves as wealthy (I drive a 2001 Lincoln Continental in a neighborhood where I am surrounded by a sea of Lexus and BMW sweet rides… while 93% of the world’s people don’t own a car), we are. Fact. You’re rich. Get over it and stop being mad at the people you walk by that you’re jealous of. You. Are. Rich. Stop whining.
The total income of American church goers is $5.2 trillion. (That’s more than five thousand billion dollars). It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty.
One percent. I read this and think to myself, “Can I tithe one percent more? Can I give one percent more to an organization that I trust to carry out this mission?” Here’s another sobering truth from Rich, from the stats that American church goers (in 2005) gave just 2.58 percent of their income (27% less of the income given during the Great Depression…).
The bottom line is that the commitment that American Christians, the wealthiest Christians in all history, are making to the world is just about 2 percent of 2 percent – actually about five ten-thousandths of our income. In simpler terms, that amounts to six pennies per person per day that we give through our churches to the rest of the world – six cents!
So there it is. In black and white. Feelings aside. Frustrations about what the pastor preaches aside. There it is. Facts. Simple truth. Now deal with it and let’s decide what we are going to do.
Let’s just say that as believers we decided that we would actually tithe our full 10%. What would that be? I loved the table that Rich had, some of it below:
- $168 billion – the extra money available if all American churchgoers tithed
- $705 billion – amount Americans spent on entertainment and recreation
- $179 billion – amount spent by teenagers ages 12-17 (2006)
- $39.5 billion – total U.S. -government foreign assistance budget for the world
- $31 billion – amount spent on pets (2003)
- $5 billion – total Oversees ministries income to 700 Protestant mission agencies, including denominational, interdenominational, and independent agencies (2005)
Here’s what’s even MORE mind blowing about these facts:
- $65 billion (less than 40% of the $168 billion if we tithed) could eliminate the most extreme poverty on the planet for more than a billion people
- Universal primary education for children – $6 billion
- The cost to bring clean water to most of the world poor – $9 billion
- Basic health and nutrition for EVERYONE in the world – $13 billion
(And if you do the math, we can do all of the above and still have $75 billion left over to help)
Has your mouth dropped open by now? Mine has. I’ve read this over and over and still have to remind myself to close my mouth because my entire life I have watched the poor on the news, seen the images of kids drinking water and I know it will kill them… and thought “Wow, this problem is just too big.” I’ve sent in my six pennies and thought, “Hey, at least I’m doing something – but really it’s a big problem.”
Yeah, it’s a big problem because people are dying – but it is NOT out of our realm of reach!! Not at all!! Here’s what else I loved about how Rich put this into perspective.
Imagine how stunning it would be to the watching world for American Christians to give so generously that it:
- brought an end to world hunger;
- solved the clean water crisis;
- provided universal access to drugs and medical care for the millions suffering from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis;
- virtually eliminated the more than twenty-six thousand daily child deaths;
- guaranteed education for all the world’s children;
- provided a safety net for the world tens of millions of orphans.
Think about the statement it would make if American Christian citizens stepped up and gave more than all of the governments of the world combined because they took Jesus seriously when He said to love our neighbors as ourselves. Terrorists might have a harder time recruiting young men to attack a nation so compassionate. Other wealthy nations might be shamed- or inspired to follow our example. Adherents of other relations would surely wonder what motivates the Christians to be so loving and generous.
Okay, I have to stop quoting Rich (I told you I could just quote the entire chapter I am so motivated). This is the whole gospel, a gospel without a hole. This is the good news, demonstrated with action in tangible ways that saves peoples lives. It could literally change everything. The two most important words in that last sentence – Literally. Not figuratively, not “oh that sounds good but the problem is too big”… LITERALLY. And, Everything. It would change EVERYTHING. Not just one child being sponsored and getting an education – an entire GENERATION and generationS getting educated, with clean water, and nutrition. An entire generation and those after them and after them and after them – that are contributing to society because they can. Because they aren’t concerned about how to get water and if that water will kill them, because they have nutrition so their brains can develop and then education helps them reach even more of their potential and this cycle begins to occur – a very very very positive cycle that can literally, change everything.
And it begins by us living out our faith. It begins with a commitment to say “yes” in our actions when we look at Jesus and we have said, “Yes, I’ll follow you” – we follow Him. We follow Him not just to church on Sundays, but to the world with the resources we can give.
This is not a hopeless situation. Watching the news does not have to be hopeless. We can change history and in doing so the world WILL stand up and wonder why and our answer… will be Jesus – and then, then these questions and doubts of our faith will have to cease. Because I believe even the strongest critics will sit up and notice the change being made in the world, all in the name of Jesus and wonder what that guy is really all about – for his followers to care this much.
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16