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I hear a lot of people complaining about the top “1%” of the wealthiest people. Common folks like us sneer as we gripe about how unfair it is that those people control so much of the world’s wealth. Somehow this wealth makes them bad people. “Let’s just hate them” seems to be the consensus.

What if we all, each of us who can read this page today, are actually the world’s richest people? Comparatively speaking, if you have a toilet in your house, you are way above average. If you have electricity, running water, a cellphone and an automobile, you are grossly wealthy by comparison to billions of people. That’s billions with a B, and you are probably in the top 10% of the bracket of what we call wealthy by living conditions and standards. Not too shabby.

Who really cares about the rich, though. They have their own little world and we have ours, right? Well, again, we are all wealthy in this country. Even if you only make $10,000 a year you are wealthier than over half the world’s population. If you earn $100,000 a year you are in the lower tier of the top 7-9%. If you make between $10,000 and the $100,000 mark, you are in the top 25%. Again, not too shabby.

It’s really unhealthy to worry about what the “rich” people have, when we have so much, all of us. And by the way, our community reaps the rewards of several philanthropists who generously contribute to this region. Most of the wealthy people you think about have worked hard to get where they are. They put in the hours of toil, they made sacrifices the common person is unwilling to make to get where they are, and a healthy portion of them give back.

Why is it unhealthy to worry and complain about the “rich” people? Yes, it’s harder to count your own blessings when you are busy tallying up what your neighbor has, but there’s more. Envy, minimally, rots the core of your soul. If it pains you to see other people experience good fortune, you are guaranteed to be the most sorrowful, unhappiest person in the world. People who succumb to envy are miserable and extremely sad. But it gets worse.

The Bible warns the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. The Bible doesn’t say possessing money is evil. You know what is evil? Envy. It’s one of the works of the flesh. According to Galatians Chapter 5, people who are envious cannot inherit the Kingdom. It’s that serious.

Paul tells us we should be content with some bare minimums in life — he never said be contentious over what others have. And, Paul, just like Jesus before him, was a recipient of the blessings from wealthy donors whose generosity and contributions funded their ministries.

If you are worried about the souls of the top 1%, pray for them. It is hard to depend on God and trust God when you are that wealthy. I’m sure few people of that status can stay grounded. If you find yourself hating them because of what they have, pray for your own self. Your own soul is most likely in jeopardy if you hate them or envy them for what they have. And please remember how blessed you truly are.

Craig Cottongim is the minister for New Song Church, Kingsport. He is an avid blood donor, and he’s certified in conflict resolution. You can find him at @craigcottongim on Twitter and he blogs at Email him at