Say what you will about the poor and welfare cases, a national statistic (below) shows that people in the lowest income bracket give more than twice the percentage of their pretax income to charity. Did you catch that: more than twice as much!
Granted the wealthiest are still giving more dollars, but from the perspective of the widow’s mite, the people in the lowest income bracket are giving much more.
Graphic via The Corner
I would love to speculate on what this is about, but to avoid too much controversy, it would seem that this is really nothing new. There are numerous references to riches and wealth being connected to the opposite of heaven and righteous from the Sermon on the Mount to its futility discussed in Ecclesiastes.
Something very ironic about this discussion that I have rarely heard: if it is so obvious to Jesus that the rich were so unlikely to get to heaven, then why do we have so many ministries specifically directed to reach the poor? When was the last time you heard about a ministry whose mission was specifically to reach the CEOs of the Fortune 500? Have ministers simply given up on the wealthy because they hear Jesus’ words and think he meant that they were a lost cause?
I want to speculate that, based on my own experience, helping the poor is so much more rewarding. It is easier! They know their need for God as surely as they know their need for food, clothing, and shelter. Do you remember the old story about the queen of France, Marie Antoinette? She was told that the people had no moeny to buy bread, and that bread itself was scarce and she replied, “Then let them eat cake.”
No the wealthy are not heartless jerks. In fact many care very much about the unfortunate. Jesus did not give them up as a lost cause, he only said that it was not easy and implied that it would take a lot of work. I think that the problem is not that they do not care, but they do not understand the need. It is an organic problem with our brains that we cannot readily imagine something that we are not currently experiencing. It is the same reason that we buy way too much food at the grocery store when we are hungry. It is as if your body is telling you that you have never been more hungry and you cannot help but get as much as your cart can handle.
Perhaps Fox Broadcasting does not have a bad idea with their new show Secret Millionaire where they take a wealthy person who pretends to be a person in the lower middle class (note: not “poor”) to show them how that class really lives. They may just be on to something!