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24 Those who give generously receive more,
but those who are stingy with what is appropriate will grow needy.
25 Generous persons will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
26 People curse those who hoard grain,
but they bless those who sell it.
27 Those who look for good find favor,
but those who seek evil—it will come to them.
28 Those who trust in their wealth will wither,
but the righteous will thrive like leafy trees.
9 Happy are generous people,
because they give some of their food to the poor.
16 Oppressing the poor to get rich
and giving to the wealthy lead only to poverty.
Proverbs gave varied views on money, scattered through the book. “The words ‘wealth,’ ‘wealthy,’ ‘riches’ and ‘rich’ occur 45 times in the book of Proverbs…, and the words ‘poor’ and ‘poverty’ occur the same number of times.” * But Proverbs saw generosity, by poor or rich, as a good thing. The text “affirms that generosity is a good investment. Verses 25–26, which have to do with money, make the use of wealth central here also.” **
Lord God, you care about my money, not because of what it says about my bank account but because of what it says about my heart. Keep my heart growing more generous. Amen.
There is a common thought process that humans are incapable of being truly generous because there is always something to be gained from giving. That altruism is unattainable because we secretly always seek the reward.
The proverbs don’t necessarily discredit this notion, in fact, it leans into that idea by promising joy and happiness for those that live generously.
But whether or not generosity can be truly selfless is less important than the fact that it is a practice—a discipline, that we must all integrate into our lives. I say practice because I don’t think it always comes naturally to us…which is why scripture instructs us to do it over, and over, and over again.
It’s no secret that when I exercise, I feel energized and capable of so much more than when I don’t.
It’s well known that true rest results in an ability to pour into our lives, our jobs, our families more than when we don’t.
I see generosity as very similar—when we give of our time, talents, and treasure, the result is a joy and richness in our own lives—just like exercise, rest, reading scripture, worshipping God, and praying, result in a better life for us.
The difference though, is that unlike an endorphin rush or a deeper connection with God, the joy of generosity connects us to each other and envelopes us all
It can be seen as a roundabout act of self-care—when we give to others, we receive more, when we refresh others, we ourselves are also refreshed, when we live generously, our lives get an extra measure of happiness and joy—but it‘s really an act of leaning into the connectional system God set up for us.
We have such a incredible opportunity to live into the cycle the Lord has given us. It’s such a beautiful concept that when we take care of others, we are also cared for. The true joy of generosity is leaning in the way God wants us to, so that all of God’s children can partake in that joy. It’s not about whether the practice of generosity is truly selfless or altruistic, it’s about all of us receiving the Joy of the Lord as a shared experience!
I pray that each of us would find ways to live in the mutual, shared experience that is the joy of generosity today.
* Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, sidebar article “The Wealthy and the Poor” in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1021OT.
** William D. Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Proverbs. New York: United Bible Societies, p. 256.
*** William D. Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Proverbs. New York: United Bible Societies, p. 471.