Over recent weeks, it has been impossible to see the news without being confronted with the significant inflation that we are experiencing in New Zealand. This has impacted our spending and many of us are having to make tough decisions about how we use our money. For some, this is the first time that we have had to deal with inflation of this magnitude, and we are struggling to cope with the implications on our day-to-day spending.
So, let's put our wealth into perspective. While we may not be feeling very wealthy, on a global scale, how are we really doing? If we think about the household wealth of every country, as if the entire world only had $100, a majority of the world’s wealth is concentrated in just a few countries. The top 10 wealthiest countries would hold an estimated $77 of that $100. Almost a third of global household wealth, nearly $30 out of that $100 is held by Americans, and China’s population accounts for nearly $20 of that $100. And even in those wealthy countries there is a huge wealth inequity. Currently, the top 1% of U.S. households hold near a third of the country’s household wealth. And in China there is a wealth gap between the country’s rich and poor that has widened in recent years.
In New Zealand, our household wealth accounts for only $0.30 of that $100, and while this is a small amount, we have a small population. To get a perspective on our personal wealth, check out the "How Rich Am I" web site (https://howrichami.givingwhatwecan.org). Based on these figures, if you are working full-time and earning the minimum wage in New Zealand, you are in the top 5% of income earners worldwide. Now I do not want to downplay the significant financial pressure that many in New Zealand are experiencing, but I do want to highlight that by international comparisons, we are wealthy!
So how can we respond as Christians to this wealth inequity?
Firstly, acknowledge the unprecedented inequity. Every social system, including our financial system, is fallen and creates opportunities for sin and inequality. As Christians, we are called to cultivate love and harmony. James urges us to treat each other impartially regardless of our wealth or social status (James 2:1-13)
Secondly be good stewards. All of us, rich and poor alike, are called to be good stewards of what we have and to use our possessions to glorify God and serve the needs of others. So, whether you have much, or little, use it wisely (1 Jn 3:17).
Thirdly, be generous. Christians have the opportunity to heal the breach between rich and poor. God wants us to use what we have for the sake of others. (1 Timothy 6:17-19). We can use our generosity to show God's love to the world.
Ask God to guide you in how you can use your wealth. Are there people in your community that have financial needs? What about the world around us? Currently GC Aid has projects to support those in need in the Ukraine who are suffering from the devastation of war, or those who have lost everything in Tonga following the volcanic eruption and tsunami. Gifts channelled through GC Aid help provide for the needs of these people.
Please consider making a contribution into GC Aid bank account (06 0729 0522196 00) and email email@example.com with your giving instructions, or alternatively, go to https://www.gc3.org.nz/donate/ to pay by credit card. And remember, a gift to GC Aid will qualify for tax credits in personal tax returns.