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.