What is Rich? What does it Mean?

March 30, 2012 — 2 Comments

Do you consider yourself rich? Odds are that you don’t consider yourself rich. My wife and I are both in graduate school and working full-time. While we do okay for ourselves by most standards, in most conversations, we wouldn’t consider ourselves rich. Not by any means.

What Does “Rich” Usually Mean?

When you hear the word, “rich” what do you think of? I am sure everyone has their own image in their mind (and it’s probably relative to your current financial state), but I am sure there are some commonalities. Perhaps it means having enough money so that you never have to worry about making ends meet? Maybe it means driving a nice car or living in a big house?

The truth is that our society often labels “rich” or “wealthy” by the stuff that we have. Not only are we a culture obsessed with material possessions, but because of this, we always think that we aren’t rich. Rich always seems to be defined as the people one or two steps above us. We aren’t rich because we don’t have what THEY have. They’re the ones that are actually rich.

A Different Perspective on Rich

It was a couple years ago that I came across this film and had my perspective radically changed. I always thought that I was not rich – that I was just a middle-class nobody. I failed to realize that I was not looking outside of my culture. Instead, I was buying into the materialistic paradigm.

How does the following film change your perspective?

Here are some key lines that stood out to me:

  • 43% of the world’s population live without basic sanitation
  • 18% live without an improved water source
  • 20% of the population owns 75% of the wealth
  • 14% are hungry or malnurished
  • only 8% have an internet connection

The list could go on and on. The key theme for me is realizing how much I already have and take for granted. The truth is that my wife and I are pretty comfortable. We have a large emergency fund where we could survive for about 10 months without earning any income – and that’s without cutting any major expenses.

What Does This Mean?

Understanding myself as rich ultimately means a new appreciation for the things I have AND a higher importance on correcting the imbalance in the world. Instead of continuing within a highly capitalistic society that is driven by material possessions, this new understanding forces me to give to others. Generosity is a defining factor of Christianity – and it’s not just a coincidence.

The truth is that many of who wouldn’t normally consider ourselves rich are indeed rich. Christians are forced to recognize this and do something about it. We are called to use our wealth and/or status to help bring about change in the world – not to reinforce it.

Does a global understanding of wealth/rich change your self-perception?


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Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

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