BIGGER, DEEPER, WIDER
My daily journal offered up Proverbs 11:24-25 as the journal prompt one day last week. You may know it from the NIV to say: 24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Solomon repeats this in Ecclesiastes 11:1 [NKJV] Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.
The New Testament echoes this sentiment in Luke 6:38 [ NIV] Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." This is also the message of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats [Matt. 25]
The Bible is clear that generosity is the key to abundance and it is extremely important for us believers to practice a life of giving – of sharing our blessings with others. What you give may be time or money or food or any number of things.
However, it seems that the version used by the devotional journal, The Message Bible, offers an entirely different view of verse 24.
Proverbs 11:24 [MSG] The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
I know that The Message Bible is widely panned by Bible experts as being more of a paraphrase. Indeed it is the only translation I could find that varies from the theme that a person who gives generously gains more back. So, I cannot say that the MSG has it right. But I am fascinated by the alternate idea that the generous person’s world expands – rather than just his bank account expanding.
What this inspired me to think about is how giving to other broadens our horizons and worldview. Perhaps it is true that when we give to a neighbor, it expands our world out from our own homes and families. If we give time to a soup kitchen, we are perhaps expanding our world from our neighborhoods to the city or county. If we donate to a cancer research organization, our world expands from county to the nation. And if we sponsor a child in a third world country or give to a nonprofit like the Tabitha Outreach Foundation (which is run by some women who attend the CGI church in Texarkana, Texas) our worlds expand from our own nation to the world.
Giving feels good. Who among us hasn’t wished we could do more than the time or means we have available allow us to do? When you see floods, disease and famine on the news, don’t you wish you could reach out and clothe, feed and heal the whole world or maybe put a hedge of protection around them? Don’t you give what you can, perhaps a small donation or some heartfelt time in prayer?
When your prayers are answered, when the money you donated contributes to supplies for impoverished or war-torn nations, when the food you donate to your church’s food pantry helps a struggling single parent, when the fans or blankets you give to an elderly person or the time you spend singing at a nursing home brings a smile and comfort to the recipients, your world expands and so does your heart.
God’s economy makes no sense from a human, carnal standpoint. How can you give yourself into prosperity? Only by God’s blessing.
Similarly, the way our hearts and minds expand when we give makes no sense from a human, carnal standpoint. Shouldn’t we give what we have responsibly decided we can and then say “I’ve done enough?” Maybe. But I don’t think that is how it works for those with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When a Christian gives, his/her world expands and he/she wants to reach further, dig deeper, sew blessings wider, give more, maybe even save the world.
Can you expand your world a little further today? One more minute in prayer or $0.50 more in donation or another pair of warm socks for the nursing home or one more note to a lonely person or one more word of encouragement to a struggling teen. Not so you’ll reap the promised prosperity, but so that your world will grow bigger, deeper and wider.
The more you do, the more you’ll want to do. The more generous you are, the more generous you’ll want to be. That’s God’s way.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.