Further applications from Neither Poverty Nor Riches by Craig Blomberg, including some interesting personal practices of Blomberg himself:
“First, is wealth is an inherent good, Christians should try to gain it. If some of us succeed more than the majority, our understanding of it as God’s gift for all will lead us to want to share with the needy, particularly those who are largely victims of circumstances outside their control.
Second, if wealth is seductive, giving away some of our surplus is a good strategy for resisting the temptation to overvalue it.
Third, if stewardship is a sign of a redeemed life, then Christians will, by their new natures, want to give. Over time, compassionate and generous use of their resources will become an integral part of their Christian lives.
Fourth, if certain extremes of wealth and poverty are inherently intolerable, those of us with excess income (i.e., most readers of this book!) will work hard to help at least a few of the desperately needy in our world.
Fifth, if holistic salvation represents the ultimate good God wants all to receive, then our charitable giving should be directed to individuals, churches, and organizations who minister holistically, caring for people’s bodies as well as their souls, addressing their physical as well as their spiritual circumstances
There is a danger of speaking too autobiographically in a context such as this, but lest my own motives be misinterpreted, or lest people simply wonder what kind of lifestyle I myself lead, I think it is important to share at least a few of my personal circumstances….
I was challenged early in my adult life by two different pastors, one in the US and one in the UK, who each gave 25% of the total income back to the Lord’s work and let the fact be known, not in any arrogant way, but simply to encourage others that is could be done. …I have become convinced that the concept of a graduated tithe [giving at a higher percentage the higher one’s income] is both biblical and foundational for contemporary Christian stewardship. …This was our fifth consecutive year of topping 30%, following the principle of the graduated tithe.
…I do not assume that others making the same amount as our family would in general be able to give as much away. But when the American Christian average of total giving per family is below 3% of per capita income, surely we can do considerably better! I am convinced that a substantial majority of American Christians…could at least tithe if they made it a priority. And I am confident that many of my suburban friends could do even better than that.
…So how does one do it? Obviously, by not spending money on things so many Westerners do. We must remind ourselves and our children regularly of the lies, half-truths and pagan values on which is based the advertising that bombards us daily. With relatively minor hardships, our family has freed up considerable funds by doing with less of many items that most Westerners routinely take for granted. We have refused to go into debt for anything except property and education, bought cars only that we could afford to pay cash for, bought other goods in bulk, at discounts, at garage sales and at thrift shops. …We have not heated or cooled our home quite to the extend that most North Americans do, or amassed the number of nature of clothes most Westerners seem compelled to accumulate. Even as simple a decision as not to eat out with the astonishing frequency of so many of our acquaintances has freed up enormous amounts of money.
…Ronsvalle and Ronsvalle have demonstrated that the amounts of money theoretically need to eradicate world poverty could be amassed simply if all American Christians would tithe.; every other existing Christian ministry could still continue to be funded at its current level. …There is so much more that we could do without ever coming close to reversing positions with the poor….
‘Give me neither poverty nor riches,’ prayed the writer of the proverb; but, since most of us already have riches, we need to be praying more often, ‘and help me to be generous and wise in giving more or those riches away'” (247-253).