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The wisdom of generosity

November 16, 2021

Daily Scripture

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

Proverbs 11:24-28

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, 16

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, which take some work to find. “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.”* We can’t just pick one or two favorite proverbs. “A single proverb isn’t appropriate for every circumstance. According to the book of Proverbs, neither poverty nor wealth is given high status in God’s eyes, except as they have to do with one’s pursuit of wisdom.”*

  • In Proverbs 11:25, “A liberal man [or ‘generous persons’] is literally ‘a soul of blessing’…. ‘Will be enriched’ is literally ‘will be made fat,’ which is an idiom for ‘grow rich’ or ‘become prosperous.’ The sense of this line is that the generous person will be rewarded with wealth.”** Does life always work that way, money-wise, for generous people? When you give generously of yourself (your time, means, love, spiritual gifts), what non-financial rewards have you received?
  • Proverbs 22:16 sounds rather 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 often seems to pay off financially, what kind of poverty or loss do you think the Israelite sages were saying resulted from kowtowing to the wealthy?

Lord God, you care about my money, not so much because of what it says about my bank account as because of what it says about my heart. Keep my heart growing more generous. Amen.

GPS Insights

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

(Brandon wrote this post about the wisdom of generosity for us in November 2015.)

I heard a saying once. If two men pray for bread, and God gives one man two loaves and one man none, has he answered their prayers? This is a tough thing to hear, especially for those who have worked hard for their money. Wealth was once seen as a gift from God. Things have shifted, so we now see it as a gift from ourselves and our hard work. This subtle change has big implications.

It’s not a bad thing to enjoy wealth, specifically; it’s a bad thing to chase after it at the expense of other things. The ability to make money is a gift, and just like any other gift from God, we must use it responsibly.

If someone has the gift of encouragement, it would be foolish not to share it with others. If someone has the gift of prophecy, it has no meaning except to share it with others. But when it comes to the gift of making money, it’s a little harder to share. That’s not to say it’s impossible, or that a lot of people don’t do it-–most of the very wealthy people I know are generous people.

It’s about the mindset. If we view our wealth as the fruits of our own labor, it’s a lot harder to see this as something that belongs, in part, to others that God has placed in our path. If we view it as a gift God has given us (and let’s be honest, that’s the correct way of looking at it), it becomes a lot more clear that we have a responsibility with our wealth.

The church is a great place to give, but give where your heart is. If your heart is in missions, give to missions; if your heart is in business, make micro-loans to small business owners in developing countries, and re-invest the money when you’re repaid; if your heart is with children, consider using your resources in the areas of fostering or adopting, whether through doing or just donating; if your heart is in technology, consider donating to provide technology for inner city kids who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. It’s more important to give than to worry about your giving, and it’s easier to give when you give where your heart is.

Wealth should never be a cause for guilt, but it comes with a responsibility. Whatever wealth-gaining ability God has entrusted you with, use it responsibly and generously.

© 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.

* 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.