She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Proverbs 31:20-24The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excell at them. The result of tasing the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit. We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spiindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (Which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
Verse 21 introduces us to the way that this woman is generous toward her own household. She does this by knowing of their needs. She lives in a climate where snow and cold affect her children and family. Therefore she labors to make sure that they are clothed with scarlet. The imagry here is that of seeing the heaviness of the clothing she provides for her family. She makes sure that they are warm when it is cold outside. The word household even goes a step further. This word also referred to the servants one might have in and out of their home. She is gracious and kind enough to make sure that even they are warm and well taken care of especially when it is cold outside and they need warm clothing.This next verse may seem strange to us - but she also provides for herself. This indicates her frugality, as clothes made by her own hands would cost less than those made by others. But it also indicates that she cares about her appearance. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. These are expensive and fine fabrics she uses and it indicates that her household (who are all clothed in this fashion as well - from verse 21) are dressed as those who are proud of their appearance. This is not because they are clothed in the latest fashions from Gapstein, Eyptian Eagle, or Old Testament Navy. These are clothes their mother produced by the labor of her own hand. There is class here - but not class that arises out of buying things from others. It is the class that arises from quality made at home. In this way she blesses her children, her husband, and even herself.
The excellent wife is generous toward her husband as well. We find it said that eh is known in the gates and sits among the elders of the land. He is successful and wise. Working with and for him and her family is this godly woman who takes great joy in seeing her husband respected. That takes for granted that she herself respects him - and respect for him grows in concentric circles from what men see in her heart and actions. When a man's household is in order and respectable - men want him to rise to other positions of leadership where he can do the same. The wisdom and discretion they see in his choice of a wife makes them want him to lead them. His wife, in this way, is his crown (Proverbs 12:4).
We see this attitude in Ruth - who delighted in seeing her husband Boaz honored in the gates of the land. She was indeed an excellent wife, even though she was a Gentile. Those who saw and experienced her wisdom and servant heart praised her to Boaz - and spoke to her mother-in-law of how she was better to her than seven sons. To bring honor to those around us by the way we carry ourselves is a high task. Too many live only for the honor brought to themselves - and are content with the compliments being spent there. The true servant and generous person is the one who gives of herself with no thought of herself. She is content to receive praise by seeing those she loved praised. Truly that is a generous person.
The excellent wife is generous even in business with others. Her skill is such that she is not just able to make garments for her own family - but she makes them for others. The quality of her work creates a demand for what she makes. She sells garments she makes to others who desire them for their beauty and quality. Even the tradesmen want her products. This is quite a compliment because a tradesman is one who offers quality merchandise. They learn their trade and perfect it over years. What we have here is a woman of excellence - who makes garments excellently so that those who know excellent merchandise want it when they see it. She is generous even to them for what she makes . . . sells and sells well.
The excellent wife is a generous woman. That generosity moves out in circles blessing first those she loves and calls family. Eventually though, she is so skilled in what she does that the demand for her work is great. Being selfish most often hurts the one who is this way. But being generous will bless the one who is in ways that only someone who is truly giving can understand.
He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. Proverbs 28:27
One of the things the Scriptures are certain about is the responsibility of the people of God to give to the poor. This proverb relates this responsibility in a way that reminds us of the Covenant God made with His people. That covenant often gets a bad reputation for being all about "thou shalt nots." Some think it is a religious buzz-kill - that only tells us what we cannot do. Those who think this way don't realize that there is great deal in the Old Testament Law that speaks of showing compassion and mercy.
Israel was an agrarian society - and as such there were a number of laws that encouraged them to provide for the poor. One of the things that they were told was to only harvest the land once - and not go over it a second time. This was the case with ground crops as well as things like olives and fruit which are grown on trees. The extra was to be left for the poor. This was one way they gave to the poor - as well as with what were called, "alms" which were specific financial gifts given to care for the poor in society.
God intended for the poor to receive more than just money or food. The church is better equipped morally to help the poor than the government. Governments most often just give out money. Unfortunately this leads to government programs that do more to harm than help the poor. The phrase a hand up - rather than just a hand out comes to mind. Government has made laws that actually award immoral behavior by offering more help to those who have children out of wedlock. These kind of laws may help with the hand out - but they have a bad tendency to lock people into assisted living - rather than help them to eventually become self-reliant and self-sustaining. When the church offers help, they can address immoral behavior in a way that government cannot do. This is the way God desires for the poor to be blessed. He desires for a person's moral choices to be addressed, for often a mroal choice leads to a blight on our financial state.
We are told here that the one who gives to the poor will never want. Another proverb states that when we give to the poor, we are lending to the Lord. When we do this - God will be sure to bless us and meet our needs. The second half of this proverb addresses what often happens when the poor are neglected. We do this by closing our eyes to the problem and to their needs. We simply shut our eyes - and then shut our hearts to their plight. This, according to God's Word, will bring to the one who does it, many curses. First there is the curse which comes from not obeying God's law. That comes with a withdrawal of blessings from God. But there is also a curse that comes from the poor as well. They watch as the rich pamper themselves and ignore their situation. In some situations this reaches a fever pitch and results in revolutions and other violent confrontations. The French Revolution was such a reaction to the abuses of the rich.
God desires for His people - and His church - to care for and love the poor. Because the church has adbicated her role in this - the government has taken over this task. The result of our disobedience in this area is that the government begins to take greater and greater amounts of money to give to the poor. In the end, we are cursed with over-reaching government intrustion into our finances and our lives. We are also cursed with a government which in time realizes it can control the people through ever increasing gifts to the poor. This leads to a curse on those with any level of financial security in society, because the government must increase its revenues to continue the giveaways. This is why God wants His Word to govern such charity - because without something to guide us - our natural sinful tendencies will lead us to use our gifts to secure power or influence.
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. Proverbs 28:22
Greed and a heart that chases after wealth and riches - is a terrible condition to see in a man. The Bible describes such a conditioin as having an "evil eye." This phrase is actually a Hebraism which meant to be greedy about money - and very stingy about giving any of it to anyone other than himself. When a man lives this way, he has an evil eye.
Another way of stating this is found in this same Hebraism in the New Testament. In Luke we see Jesus say this about a person's eye. "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35) The "bad eye" mentioned here is said to be full of darkness. This is a similar Hebraism that speaks of the evil or the bad eye. What is interesting is that both of these passages refer to someone who is very greedy with their money. Whether in the Old Testament or the New, this condition is considered a bad one to have.
Here is the problem - when money fills our eye - little else does. Therefore we don't have our eyes on the Lord - and neither can we see past money to recognize the needs of others that should move us to compassion and a giving heart. The evil eye is hastening after wealth. The word for "hasten" here is "bahal" and it means to be in a hurry for fear or dismay that one won't get what they are chasing. The unwise man is chasing wealth. He is not just after money - he wants a lot of money. He won't be satisfied until he has a little more - and that condition will be terminal.
This man is igorant of something that is happening to him even as he pursues his money. Slowly but surely want is coming upon him. It may not be a want of cash - it may be a want that grows as he ignores family, friends, and God in his endless pursuit of just a little more. The writer, Charles Dickens gave us the unforgettable Ebenezeer Scrooge in his book entitled, "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge was a man who had enormous amounts of wealth in reference to his bank account. Unfortunately for him such a boon in his bank led to utter bankruptcy everywhere else. The visits from the three spirits who came to show him his poverty woke him up to the fact that while he hastened after wealth - want had come upon him. It was a want that could not be satisfied with money alone. That fortunate night cured Scrooge of his evil eye - yet his name lives forever in our minds as a term that speaks of a miserly, miserable heart that loves little other than its money.
May God help us to embrace wisdom as a result of today's proverb. Wisdom is to have what Jesus called a "clear eye" that is "filled with light." That light will be the Word of God that will instruct us in true riches. Those may include physical wealth - but will never be limited to it along. The true riches must always include a tender heart that yields an open hand that does not hold tightly to financial wealth. It sees such blessings as God-given, and therefore to be God-directed to those who need it most. When we live this way it is not want that is coming to us, but blessing. The blessing of having our treasure in heaven and our true riches found in a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ.
He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. Proverbs 14:21
We continue to be counselled here on our attitude and actions toward the poor. God is truly concerned that we are gracious to the poor, for He Himself was gracious to us when we were poorer than any level of poverty could ever reach. He granted us His very riches in Christ through the gospel - therefore we too should respond with grace and with mercy to those who have little or nothing around us.
This proverb speaks of those who "despise" their neighbor. The one who despises his neighbor looks at his poverty and hates it. He sees no need for mercy or for kindness. He will most likely point out all the reasons why this one is in poverty - and say that is the reason why he should not do anything for the poor. While it is true that we need to give to the poor in a way that does not enable them to continue in sin, there is a need for them to receive genuine love and mercy from those who can help them.
Some despise their poor neighbor because their poverty calls for generosity - and that is hard to have when one is in bondage to a worldview where they are all that matters. They want much for themselves and therefore to give to another is an unwanted trouble. Therefore they despise the poor - and refuse to be gracious and give to their neighbor in need. We are told that such an attitude is sinful. It misses the mark that God has made for us to hit.
It is truly important to see the nature and the actions of God to see why this is such a sinful, wicked attitude. When we refuse to give, we are very much unlike God. He gives to the poor and to the unfortunate. As was said at the beginning of this post, God gave His Son for the poorest of all creatures - sinful man. That should help us understand His basic nature - that He is gracious and giving. We, therefore, should be gracious and giving as well. To be and to do anything else is just sinful.
He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it. Proverbs 11:26
Today's proverb is fascinating to me because it addresses an abuse that often happens in the area of economics. This abuse, though a proven way to make money, results in the inflation of prices for food. What has happened over the course of economic history is that when this is done - and it reaches a critical level in food prices - it leads to riots and in some cases the overthrow of a government.
Our proverb speaks of one who has much grain. Here is a man who has worked hard and labored to produce a crop on his farm. As a result he has a large amount of grain. He can choose to withhold grain from the people and not sell it. By doing this he will drive the price of grain up due to a scarcity of grain in the market place. This will make him very wealthy, but in time it will backfire on him. The people, who need grain, will begin to curse him because his actions are preventing them from eating - or is making it to where being able to provide food is becoming very expensive. The cost is not coming due to natural reasons such as a flood or drought or crop failure. The added cost is coming due to a man's greed. But for the man who sells his grain there will be a blessing - not just a financial one - but one from God Himself. This proverb allows us to consider the whole area of how Biblical authority addresses economic theory.
In our day it is considered a wise business move to hold on to goods until they wind up in short supply. This allows the person who has them to artificially inflate the price of what they sell so that they can make huge profits from it. Such actions eventually become accepted business practices on larger levels so that embargos are used by nations to boost the price of their domestic products. In time groups of businesses form consortiums that try to corner an entire market so that they can set the price wherever they want. The government then steps in a tries to enforce what they call "social justice." They impose restrictions on businesses so that things will be fair. The problem is that in time the government oversteps their bounds and corruption within the government (due to the sin nature in all of us) begins to crystalize. It is then that officials learn how to use their power to corner their own political markets and do the very thing they initially were trying to prevent in the public sector. The problem throughout all this is that the poor are hurt the most by such practices.
Some think wrongly that the end of all labor is to make money. But Scripture militates against that philosophy. God desires us to work hard and be diligent to make a profit - but - He also desires for us to be compassionate in the process. This sets up a very interesting tension in life and in the economic theory that governs Bible-believing Christians. At one end is the philosophy of pure Capitalism. This philosophy functions under the idea that life is about the profit motive at all times. But God warns against a "love of money" which He says is a root of all sorts of evil. At the other end is Socialism and Communism. This philosophy functions under the assumption that a government should rule over all land and production efforts. Their goal is then to take all profits and distribute them equally to all the people. Both of these extremes will fail.
Pure Capitalism will fail because greed will so rule men's hearts that they will lack compassion for others - and especially for the poor. In time their greed will consume them with a desire for more and more profit - and an insatiable desire for more and more wealth. In the process they will shut their hearts to the plight of the poor. This will lead to greater levels of abuse of the poorest - who will then curse those who have the economic power - and will ultimately lead to revolution and the overthrow of those who have the wealth and power in society.
Communism and Socialism will fail because of greed as well. Though such economic philosophies sound wonderful at the outset, they fail because of several factors. First, there is no man who is not fallen. When given the power to confiscate the wealth of a society, they will NOT distribute it equally. They will eventually treat themselves well - and let the rest of society live on the rest. This has happened in every situation when such an economic system prevails. Their goals may sound lofty, but their practices wind up eerily similar to the captialist. Second, there is no motive in this system to work. Actually there is a motive - to do what you do for the good of all others in the collective society. But this equates good as distributing things equally among all in the society. This will not work in a fallen world because over time some will sinfully decide that if they don't work hard - or at all - they will still get an equal part of the collective pie. Others who intially work hard - will be greatly discouraged that it is their hard work that is allowing the lazy, the undisciplined, and the slothful to live just as they do. In time there will be an equality - but it will be an equality of poverty and want - because no one will be motivated to work to the best of their ability. No matter how hard they work - they only get the same part of the collective's goods. These will never be enough for collective prosperity because sinfulness will move many to barely work at all - or at a level where they are forced to work.
The system God will bless is one that encourages and rewards hard work and industriousness. This is captialism - but there must be a restraint in this system as well, if it is to succeed. This is what I call "Compassionate Captialism." It is a system where the profit motive and self-interest is encouraged. But it is also a system that values compassion and kindness. Where a profit and self-interest motive might move a man to withhold grain so he can make an obscene profit - he does not do it. He is moved by the desire to serve those who buy his grain. Understanding this he chooses to sell his grain - not just for a profit - but for a profit that also allows those who are poor to be able to afford to feed their families. In the end, this man is blessed with profit - and also is blessed with the favor of God for acting with kindness and compassion toward those who can easily be taken advantage of by the system. He chooses a wise profit level rather than one driven by greed alone. This promotes peace and the welfare of all those in the market.
It is fascinating to see the wisdom of God address all areas of life. One would not readily think that the Word of God would be a good place to learn economic principles. Yet when we read and mediatate on God's Word - immeasurable benefit is gained from it. Oh, that we would not divorce academic pursuit from the queen of the sciences - theology. May God gives us wisdom to see that His perspective is best in all academic and lifestyle pusuits. Then we can be blessed - not just a religious context - but in all of life.
The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25
God wants His people to be like Him - and that requires that we take a serious look at what it means to be generous. The Lord Himself is extremely generous toward mankind. When you consider that we have sinned against Him, rebelled against His sovereignty and authority, and even gone so far as to deny His existance while blaspheming Him - you begin to grasp why any response other than total judgment is marvelously generous. Yet God has gone far above just showing us a little mercy. He has allowed His justice to fall upon His Son, the Lord Jesus, having Him bear the payment for our forgiveness. Therefore we should honestly consider God's generosity as being infinite.
God says that the generous man will be prosperous. The literal Hebrew here says, "The soul of blessing will be made fat." The idea here is that a person wants to bless others. This men or woman is generous in the very core of their being. Their normal response is to be kind and generous to others. God tells us that this kind of person will be prosperous. Some in the "name-it, claim it" movement states that this means they will have lots of money. But, I've seen over the years people who would not be in any way described as rich - be very generous. They are this way not just with money - but with their time. I've also known these people to be some of the most blessed people in my life. Thus, in defining prosperity, we need to define it not just as monetary prosperity, but also as prosperity of soul as well.
The last aspect of this proverb says that the one who waters others, will himself be watered. This is an allusion to the agricultural world. When someone waters a plant, he is providing much needed moisture to the plant for its health and welfare. The picture here is not of a plant being watered, but of a person being blessed. When we are generous with our time and our ministry to others, we are helping them grow spiritually. When we do this, God lets us know that we ourselves will be aided in our spiritual growth.
The way this works is truly amazing - because so often our fallen nature wants everyone to "water us" rather than to pour into others. At the risk of being prideful, I will use an example from my own life. There have been many days that I have woken up and did not want to do anything. I was filled with thoughts of myself - and all I wanted was to do my own thing - or to just sit and do nothing. Often on these days I feel pretty depressed and useless. But on several of them God began to speak to my heart, encouraging me to get up and actively go out somewhere to bless someone else who needed it. What is funny is that at first when I chose to obey God in this, I was not terribly excited about the whole thing. Usually I did it by accessing what seemed to be the last ounce of strength I could muster (really this was not the case - I just get a kind of dramatic when I am a selfish putz). What is truly astounding though is how I was watered as I went to bless someone else. Eventually the depression would begin to lift - and my attitude would alter radically. By the end of the day I would notice that I had come full circle, being filled with joy over God's goodness in it all. I remember a good friend talking about a friend of his who had a day like this. He chose to get up and go bless someone else. The story concludes with this man stating that it was because this brother obeyed God that he himself was saved. The man he went to bless - was him. He shared the gospel with my friend - and later that evening, at a revival service he invited him to attend, he gave his life to Christ.
Remember this proverb the next time you get into a spiritual and emotional funk. Go do something that will bless others. Choose to be generous - to go out and water someone whose spiritual life is dry and barren. Go out and bless someone else who could never repay you for what you are about to do. When you do this - you will soon learn the truth of this passage. You will be prosperous spiritually - and - you will find yourself being watered by God Himself for your generosity - and by your willingness to adopt His character as your own.
There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. Proverbs 11:24
What does God think about those who are stingy with their time, their talents, and their finances? Here we see two people. The first is constantly scattering what he has. He does not hold it tightly to his chest and consider it his own. He scatters his time to those who need to be encouraged, loved, counselled, built up, and at times rebuked and corrected. He scatters his talents to the church - to the business he owns or works at - to the community when they need him. He scatters his finances as he invests in the kingdom of God and into the needs of others around him. This man is constantly scattering - not just money - but godly influence and the love of God. He is like a man walking through a barren-looking field - tilled - but without anything on it. As he walks he does not see the barrenness, but rather what that field can be if someone sows it properly. His scattering is not just giving away what God has given him. It is planting. It may not look like much as he scatters seed everywhere. But as that seed dies and comes to life first as a seedling, then as a plant, then as a full grown crop, then as a field that is white unto harvest - the man is seen for the wisdom that he had. He has scattered - yet he increases all the more. He will increase in influence - in favor with those whom he selflessly loves - in financial strength as God blesses him for his giving - in favor with God as he gives himself to obey the Lord and follow Him fully. This man will not be poor for scattering what was given to him. On the contrary - according as he has sown - he will reap thrity, sixty, and a hundred fold. He will take his talent and not bury it in the ground. He will invest it - return it to his master - and be put in charge of many things.
The stingy man's end is much different. We read that he withholds what is justly due. There is a pregnant statement if ever there was one. What is justly due? For those of us who know the Word of God - we are to give God a tithe of all that we have and produce. That does not come from the Old Testament Law - although it does teach tithing. It comes from Abraham's example before the Law was given. He gave a tenth of all he gained to Melchizedek. He did so as our example of giving - as well as he is the example of our faith as well. What is due though is everything! We are not just to surrender to God 10% and think we are done. We are to give all that we are and all that we have for God's glory. But the unwise man withholds what is due. He is not just a stingy man, he is a selfish man. Like the unwise farmer he thinks everything is his - to be used as he sees fit - for his own glory and his own selfish ends. When blessed with a bumper crop he does not consider giving some away. He chooses to tear down his old barns and build new ones that can keep all his stuff for himself. He is selfish to his own harm. The wisdom of God tell us that this man only winds up in want. The rich fool planned to keep everything for himself and died that very night. What he gained was nothingness for all eternity. The rich man who disdained to feed Lazarus with the scraps of his table did not die rich. He died selfish and self-centered. He died poorer than Lazarus - for he died and went to eternal punishment in hell. He had everything he could think of in life - but in death he wound up destitute for eternity.
Dear saints of God - learn to be one who scatters rather than one who only gathers and holds tighly. The tight-fisted man will have his hand broken - and his grip crushed in the end. Everything he thinks he holds tightly to will be gone in an instant. He will ultimately lose everything. The generous man who scatters will not lose anything. In fact his sowing guarantees that a crop will come and a harvest 50 times greater than he had before will come. Truly the wise man is the generous man - the giving man - the scattering man. Be that man.
A man's gift makes room for him And brings him before great men. Proverbs 18:16
When one appears before great men, there is a wonderful Asian practice of coming with a gift. This can be construed as a bribe to some - but that is not how those in Asian culture view it. They view it as wise and right to bring a gift with you when you come to see someone - and - the greater the person, the more important the gift. Over the years I have had the privilege and honor to pastor several Chinese and Japanese Christians. One thing I have seen in their actions is that they will bring me a gift when they come to see me. For me this is a precious thing - and it is also humbling. Their gifts are never something casual or thoughtless. They always take the time to consider what I might enjoy - and they delight in giving it.
This proverb is trying to get us to see the value in being generous with others. We will never be the poorer for genuinely giving gifts of love and respect to others. We will also benefit from seeing the value of letting those in important positions know that we both respect them and value what they can contribute to our lives. This is why we read that this gift will both make room for us and bring us before great men.
An example of this was how the Queen of Sheba came before Solomon. She sought an audience with the king. When she came she brought a huge gift - involving spices, a special type of wood, and other very valuable items. She came with these things to receive Solomon's wisdom - and to see this great king of which she had heard. What is interesting is the practice of the noble men and women who receive such people who come with thoughtful gifts. Solomon first answered all her questions - leaving her breathless as she heard him and saw his court. But we read at the close of the passage that she left receiving more than she had given. The kings and rulers of the East were given to their liberality in response to the graciousness of others. The Queen of Sheba left with more than she gave. This is a type as well for us of how we come before God. We may come giving liberally - but we leave far wealthier than we came. We receive the graciousness of our Lord and King - and the level of blessing which He can grant. That, dear friends is amazing - but often that kind of display is reserved for those who first show respect, honor, and an open hand in how they give to the Lord of all. May our level of giving never hinder us from blessing, but release it gloriously into our lives.
He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor. Proverbs 22:9
Who would have thought that being wise involved the character trait of generosity and how we react to the poor? Yet that is exactly what we are dealing with today with the proverb of the day.
The one who is generous will be blessed. The idea for generosity here is one that comes from the Hebraism. The actual phrase is that this one has a good eye. In Hebrew, to have a good eye is to be someone who is kind and generous. It meant that you looked with kindness on others. It was the picture of a man who was good, gracious, kind, and generous. A man with a bad eye would be one who is stingy and selfish. He would be seen as an evil, ungodly man.
Jesus used these same Hebraisms when He said, "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness." (Luke 11:34-35, NASB) In the same way Jesus was stating that if our eye is selfish and stingy - if we are tight-fisted and unwilling to give to others - it will yield a darkness in us. We will be selfish, ungrateful, and unkind men. But if our eye is good - it shows that we are gracious and kind as well.
The man here with the good eye - he is generous and blessed. This is seen by the fact that he gives some of his food to the poor. This gracious and good man is concerned about those less fortunate than himself. Thus he takes his own food and gives some of it to the one poorer than himself - to bless them. This is something that is commended from Old to New Testaments.
As early as Exodus and Deuteronomy God told Israel not to forget the poor. In Deuteronomy 15:7
we read the following admonition by God - that sounds like a rewriting of this proverb. "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in
whatever he lacks." But there are not only commands to remember the poor, but also promises of blessing to those who do. Proverbs 19:17
reminds us that those who are gracious to the poor lend to the Lord - and God promises to reward those who do so for their good deeds. We even find in the New Testament at the Jerusalem Council that Paul is urged to remember the poor - which he states is the very thing he wanted to do.
God wants so show His own gracious hand through how He leads His own people to be generous as well. That is why we want to be gracious and kind towards the poor. It is absolutely our duty - but it is also an important way that the world around us can see the character and love of our God as He works through us.
Many will seek the favor of a generous man, And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. Proverbs 19:6Before I went on my recent diet I must confess that I was a somewhat regular visitor to a local donut shop. While visiting there I saw part of this proverb fulfilled on a regular basis. I would watch well dressed businessmen come in and buy two dozen donuts of various types and then head out for their important appointment. Now I do not think these businessmen were donut freaks - they were just using the donuts to gain access to a customer. Every man is a friend to him who gives gifts - especially when those gifts are donuts early in the morning.Some proverbs are meant to help us understand human nature. This is one of them. The fact is that many men will seek the favor of a generous man. The word for "generous" here means more than just someone who is giving. It also means a noble man - one born of nobility - which also usually means a wealthy man - and one connected in such a way that he has power. The simple fact of life is that many will seek this man's favor because of what he offers to them. This is why people in high positions should be careful about those who are courting their favor. It is a very rare thing for people in these kind of positions to find people who want nothing from them but friendship. The man who gives gifts will have many friends. But - there is a flip side to this as well. If you have the majority of your friends because of how generous you are - be careful to seek to court true friends in the midst of them. When the gifts cease often so does their friendship. That is why you want no only to be generous toward others - but also discerning. Generous because it is a good thing to learn to be generous toward others - but discerning as well because you also want to know who are real friends are in life. In the end - they will be the ones who will stick with you no matter what your bottom line is - or what your gifts will help to make theirs.