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The joy of generosity

October 5, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Proverbs 11:24-28, Proverbs 22:9, 16

Proverbs 11
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.

Proverbs 22
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.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

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.” **

  • Proverbs 11:24-25 might sound like an ancient version of “the prosperity gospel.” In fact, that’s not what the texts mean. “[’Those who give’] translates a Hebrew particle that merely states that something exists or happens; for example, ‘there is [one who].…’ This does not mean that the example given is typical but rather that it sometimes happens.” ** When you give generously of yourself (your time, means, love, spiritual gifts), what non-financial rewards have you received?
  • Proverbs 22:16 can sound cryptic. After analyzing various ways of understanding the Hebrew, scholars Reyburn and Fry call the Contemporary English Version’s rendering “a good expression of it in colloquial English: ‘Cheat the poor to make profit or give gifts to the rich—either way you lose.’” *** Given that it may seem to pay off financially, what kind of poverty or loss do you think the Israelite sages were saying resulted from buttering up the wealthy?
Prayer

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.

GPS Insights

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Student Discipleship Program Director with Resurrection Students. She has nearly 20 years of volunteer and professional ministry experience and loves walking alongside and encouraging others in their spiritual journey. Mikiala is blessed to be an adoptive aunt and godmother to many kiddos and lives with her 10-pound Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

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.

 

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* 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.