“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give and only suffers want” (Proverbs 11:24). The Proverbs are an interesting part of the Scripture. They contain many sayings that bring comfort, some that bring instruction and others that bring warning.
Most cultures have their own sets of proverbs. Indeed, some of those we find in Scripture, we can find in the wisdom texts of other religions. Even C.S. Lewis made a study of them publishing a kind of anthology in his book, The Abolition of Man. Still, proverbs are general statements of how things work in the world.
It’s too long a discussion for this devotion, for sure, but proverbs point to the natural outworking of creation governed by God through His providence. From my home study I can see trees in the process of spring blooms and hear birds making their song. One particular very large bush this year happens to be the home of a very active red bird. Why do these things happen? Because it’s Spring and in Spring God directs creation to do its Spring-thing.
Back to the text. It is the natural order of things that for one who gives freely, he finds himself amply supplied. While, at the same time, the miser experiences want. We might point to some rich-and-famous person who gives nothing but takes always and think, “Well, the proverb isn’t working there.” Material wealth can be a mask for all manner of other more devastating poverties.
We are looking to Holy Week in a few days. Surely an example of One who gave freely. Did He grow richer as a result? Absolutely. Paul says so in Philippians 2:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Beloved, the general drift of this world is that as we give, we will be given. But also, that if we take and keep, we will be in want. We need not fear generosity: of money, of time, of tears, of efforts. By wiring this dynamic into creation, the Creator wanted to see a generous creation of interlocking giving and receiving. The Proverbs tell us this dynamic hasn’t been erased by the Fall.
Be generous with your lives not just for the reward but because of the beauty it will create.