The Bible encourages us to think differently. My McArthur Study Bible defines "rich" as those who have more than they need to live upon. If you are reading this on a computer right now, chances are that you are rich according to this definition. What do we need in order to live? Basic food, a few pieces of clothing, and shelter. So 1 Timothy 6:17 - 19 applies to us:
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.
In the second week of our recent trip to South Africa, I felt an immense conflict in myself about how rich I was and how little I did in this world. I was so obviously rich in a place where many are obviously poor, and it seemed like the only people I ever talked with were equally rich . . . what did this mean for who I was and my place in the world?
Then God comforted me. He reminded me that God had given me these "things" that make me rich. He had given us the money to not only own a car but also hire one, to not only own a home in Tasmania but also hire lovely places to stay in South Africa. Yes, this was luxury. Yes, God had given it. Given it to enjoy, not to feel guilty about.
I don't understand why there is so much inequality in this world. The Bible says that God decides who will be rich and poor (see 1 Samuel 2). I don't understand why he doesn't even things out more! However, it is not my job to question God. It is my job to be grateful and obey. That means being ready and willing to give, and actively pursuing a lifestyle of good works. This is basic to my place in the world as one of those who are rich.