Tag Archives: Wealth Series

Christians and Money Series-Serving Two Masters: Part 2

Introduction

 

 

Christianity – What Went Wrong?

 

 

  1. Once Saved Always Saved- This post offers evidence of secure salvation that does not take the conventional route to examine the book of Hebrews. Instead, it will adopt three independent approaches. Check it out!

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/once-saved-always-saved-10min-read/

  1. Faith and Work in Harmony –Read this post to support the Once Saved Always Saved post as it is complimentary. Check it out!

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/faith-and-work-in-harmony-4min-read/

Before I accepted Jesus as savior, I held prejudices against Christians. Without hard evidence, the sensing informed that Christians were sanctimonious and hypocrites. My father-in-law and mother-in-law are atheists. The Christian English speaking peers discriminated against them in the work environment for their speaking mandarin background and inferior command of the English language. The government policy perpetuated this discriminatory work environment in the 1970s and 1980s that promoted English and suppressed mandarin use.

Till today, these experiences stumble them from seeing the love offered by Jesus. Unsurprisingly they share the same prejudice once held. I still have this prejudice. The reasons for them will naturally reveal themselves in this series of posts.

When it occurred to me that I am as guilty of this same indictment, this is one reason that motivated me to start blogging and adopt changes to reflect the truths that God has revealed that illuminate my soul.

I was heavily exposed to the “hyper-grace and prosperity gospel” of Joseph Prince Ministries from 1996 to 2012. Therefore I am no stranger to the influences of wealth and material blessings legitimized through such preaching. I am opposed to such teachings as they test God’s will with a carnal mind. Please refer t the link below, which is a related post about testing God.

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/11/07/test-mock-god/

The above raises the query, Is there truth to the indictment of sanctimoniousness and hypocrisy by non-believers concerning Christians? This reflection aims to examine Christians and money as the context to support to answer this query.

In total, 12 parables (see Appendix A) regarded money with key roles illustrating money as a source of value and motivation. The value of money becomes glaring when it is insufficient to meet the basic needs and endangers life.

Money is a proxy of power and influence. It is of such paramount importance that Jesus recognized that man struggles to denounce their worship of money, which is necessary before one can genuinely serve God (Mat6:24).

The Hedonic Treadmill

Money fuels hedonic adaptation. This adaptation compels man to pursue after things or relationships to bring about happiness. Tragically this state of happiness is fleeting, not sustainable, and requires more significant pursuits to create the same pleasure.

One main engine of this hedonic adaptation is social comparison. Social comparison breeds envy and covetousness. These toxic emotions drive the pursuit of money that one imagines can give them what others have, bringing happiness. Hedonic adaptation and social comparison are both parts of the human condition of the flesh.

For more about the hedonic adaptation, watch the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXCol9vaPkY

 

Christians and Money

The link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_and_religion and https://www.cnbc.com/2015/01/14/the-religion-of-millionaires-.html show that based on the report by New World revealed the wealth distribution among different religious groups. Based on the data from this link, the ranking of the winners emerge as follow. Christianity is clearly in the lead in both categories, highest in global wealth as a percentage and the highest number of millionaires.

Winners of the Hedonic Race
Table: Global Wealth Ranking of Various Religious Groups

Table: Global Wealth Ranking of Various Religious Groups

 

Money and the World

The Wealth Pyramid Extracted from “Global Wealth Report 2013” by Credit-Suisse.com

The above diagram from the link https://web.archive.org/web/20150214155424/https://publications.credit-suisse.com/tasks/render/file/?fileID=BCDB1364-A105-0560-1332EC9100FF5C83 illustrates the severity of the rich-poor chasm.

The wealth pyramid shows that 8.4% of the world’s wealthiest segment of the population possesses 83.3% of the world’s wealth.

In contrast, 68.7% of the world’s poorest segment of the population possesses 3% of the world’s wealth.

The “middle class” that makes up 22.9% of the world’s population possesses 13.7% of its wealth.

Visual Disparity of Wealth Relative Ranking (To Scale)

For comparison, it is useful to adopt the relative ranking approach with the world’s poorest population as the smallest denominator. The denominator is defined as “% wealth/%population,” which gives the unit of wealth across the population’s particular segment. The following emerges.

No World’s Population

Categorized by Wealth

% wealth/%population.” Relative Ranking
1 Poorest (68.7%) 0.0437 1
2 Middle (22.9%) 0.598 13.7
3 Richest (8.4%) 9.917 226.9

The above shows that the world’s most prosperous group is 226.9 times wealthier than the world’s poorest as a group.

The total wealth reported by Credit-Suisse is 240.8trillion exceeds the New World Report amount of 195trillion. This reporting difference is attributable to the ways wealth data were categorized, gathered, and accounted for.

The reasons for this reality are complex, and the webs of factors are involved. While no one individual, even the richest, can unravel this Gordian knot, the evidence shows that Christians as a whole have the largest stake that sustains the status quo of glaring wealth disparity.

The graph below shows about 20% of the world’s population lives in abject poverty; less than USD 1.90 a day. These are more than just figures. People’s lives revolve around these realities.

(By Max Roser – https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83581991)

 

Who is the Master?

The data does not reveal how much wealth in the top 8.4% belongs to Christians.

If one adopts the same proportion (55%) given by New World and applies this to the top 8.4% wealth in Credit-Suisse’s report, the millionaire Christians hold about 110 trillion. Using the 2013 global population of 7.162 billion (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/world-population-countries.php), the average net worth for each Christian in that 8.4% segment is approximately $330,000.00.

Christian Wealth among the Top 8.4% of the World’s Wealthiest

Conclusion

This evidence embellishes the indictment that Christians appear to be serving two masters. In Ezekiel’s language, the prophet, this is akin to playing the harlot with the world’s economic system. Jesus says that this man will end up with a love-hate relationship with the two masters (Mat6:24).

The Human Condition Torn Between Two Masters

In reality, the love-hate relationship is not loyal to either Master. The soul swings like a pendulum. The soul is in this constant tension and conflict-torn between two spiritual Masters and conflicting inner desires.

This reflection ends on this sobering note. The following post will explore what the bible reveals about the harlotry of such nature.

Christians and Money Series – Reality Check: Part 1

 

Introduction

 

This post is part 1 of the series “Christians and Money”.

This post is an introductory post to the wealth series that will span five parts, including this post. These wealth series share the common theme, “Christians and Money.”

The introductory post is Part 1 provides a flavor of what is to come.

Part 1 to Part 5 of the series has the following themes. As each post is limited to 10min read, there may arise the need to increase this series by one or two more posts. Look out for these posts issued weekly.

  1. Christian and Money Part 2 – This post examines evidence that shows Christians may have two masters., God and Mammon.
  2. Christian and Money Part 3 – This post examines the old and new testament scriptures to understand the consequences of serving two Masters and the evidence that Christians are serving 2 Masters.
  3. Christian and Money Part 4 – This post examines new testament scriptures to identify the root cause of money’s enslaving power over Christians and non-Christians alike.
  4. Christian and Money Part 5 or more – This post supports the personal application. It draws from the previous post’s clarity to offer a paradigm shift that breaks away from serving two masters’ status quo.

 

This wealth series is not about taking Christians on a guilt trip. It has the following goals.

  1. This series create awareness of the deceptive relationship with money. Man can avoid the eternal consequences that the current norms bring.
  2. This series support the Christians’ walk to break out from the mold of the world economic system. It is making stronger connections between scripture, societal stance, and personal practical application.
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God does not condemn the rich for their wealth. But for their boastfulness (Jam4:13, 16), oppressing the disadvantaged (Jam5:4, 2:9), and trusting in hoarded riches instead of God (1Tim6:17, Luke12:21).

 

Neither it is a sin or God’s punishment to be poor, for both the rich and poor operate within the purpose and will of God by the life opportunities and life challenges presented (Jam2:5, 1Tim6:18-19).

 

Self Check

 

All are encouraged to perform the following three exercises that frame the unique wealth position of each individual.

  1. This link is an Income Percentile Comparison Calculator by Age. It gives the standing among the population based on declared annual income and age group.
  1. This Wealth Rank Calculator. It gives the standing among the USA population-based on total net worth.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/baldwin/2019/10/06/are-you-in-the-one-percent-heres-a-wealth-rank-calculator/?sh=692b3b16331f

 

Net Worth Calculator

 

  1. Determine, X = Monthly Disposal Income/(National Means Test for Social Aid x 2.0 x no of persons in the household)

The national means test for social aid is the disposable income an individual has a month below, which qualifies for social assistance. This amount varies and depends on the cost of living of one’s location.

The factor of 2.0 adopted is an arbitrary figure that can vary between 2-3 to account for a lifestyle that eats at home or spends about SGD20 per day on food and transport. This X value reflects how lavish one’s lifestyle above one that is in financial lack.

These three parameters in the back of one’s mind make reading the posts in this series more meaningful.

 

 

Income and Expense – LifeStyle Standard

 

 

Enjoy the journey!