Yesterday the mail brought an appeal from the 100th organization asking us for money for a cause somewhere in the world. Some are organizations dealing with politics, and others are trying to protect animal life or solve environmental issues. Seventy-four were organizations meeting human needs, including blindness, disease, poverty, birth defects, mental illness, and victims of war. Many organizations meeting human needs have budgets well under a million dollars. They get their money from people like me, who are not wealthy but give what we can. Yet, because there are so many of us, these organizations continue to accomplish their work.
A news item that arrived yesterday was a list of the dollar value of contracts between major league baseball players and their teams. Aaron Judge topped the list with a 360 million-dollar contract. The total for the top three players reached a billion dollars. The top fifteen major league baseball players signed for over sixty million dollars each. We could find similar data for NFL football players or NBA basketball players. The wealth of politicians, the amount paid to movie stars, and the salaries of CEOs in the business world are staggering for those of us who get by on less annual income than some of these people make in an hour.
So how much do the world’s wealthiest people give to organizations meeting human needs? Of course, there are a few cases where the rich support good causes. But considering the lifestyles of most of the rich, we understand why Jesus told His followers, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24 CSB).
The Bible tells about rich people who made a positive difference, but overall the message is that the love of money crowds out everything else. “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 CSB).
The track record of the very rich is not good. Suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, broken marriages, lost children, and the lack of genuine companionship abound. Meanwhile, the flow of misery from undeveloped countries is accelerating, and the followers of Christ are shipping the food, drilling the water wells, and providing medical help to meet human needs. Our thanks to all who follow the teachings of Jesus and give sacrificially to meet the needs of others.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: USA Today in South Bend Tribune for 3/12/23.