When I was in high school I so badly wanted to be tall. We had a couple guys on our high school basketball team that were 6’5” or taller, and I envied them. They could dunk easily. They were more imposing defensively than me. I asked God to make me taller and He did not. Someone told me to hang from the doorframe, to stretch myself out and that would somehow spark a growth spurt. It did not. Less than 1% of the population is 6’5” or taller. If you are 6’5” or taller you are in the top 1% of people for height. You are a one-percenter. Yes, I know that there are challenges with being tall. You never look comfortable on an airplane. Showers at hotels are a challenge. You struggle to get into some cars. But I still envy you and your 1% height like ways.
Being 6’5” makes you a one-percenter in height. What does it take to be in the top 1% of wealth in the world? On the website globalrichlist.com you can put your income into a calculator and see where rank. If you make $30,000 you are in the top 1.2% of income-earners in the world. While it takes you a year to earn $30k, it takes a worker in Ghana 187 years. If you earn $30k, it takes you approximately two minutes of work to pay for a can of soda, and it takes a worker in Ghana over seven hours of work to pay for a can of soda. If you make or will one day make $30k or more, you are a one-percenter. Just as being tall presents some challenges, being wealthy presents challenges too. Yet many would love to be in the position of a one-percenter.
So, what does God want for us one-percenters? The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and challenged him to instruct the rich who lived in Ephesus. He wrote, “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 what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.” (I Timothy 6:17-19)
In the passage, we see three commands (three “be” statements) of the type of people we should be. God desires one-percenters to be these three things.
1. Be humble.
There are plenty of examples in the Bible of godly people who were also wealthy. God does not condemn us for wealth but He does warn us about wealth – that it can take our affections away from Him. In the Scripture we are not condemned for having money, but we are warned about the danger of money having us. We are to be humble, to realize that anything we have is only because He gave it. We only have what we have received from Him. The solution to arrogance is to set our hope on God, not the uncertainty of wealth. The market ebbs and flows; His mercy remains constant. Home values fluctuate; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
2. Be rich in good works.
We are to live in such a way that people speak more of our works than our wealth — that we treat people kindly and justly, that we serve others, that we show hospitality, and that we offer mercy.
3. Be generous.
Growing in generosity reveals a growing understanding of God’s generosity to us. Because He is generous and has been generous to us, we are called to be generous to others. We store treasures in the coming age by being generous to God’s kingdom in this age.
One-percenters: Be humble. Be rich in good works. Be generous.