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, nasb).
On days when the chance of rain is ten or twenty percent, you prepare as if it’s zero percent. You assume the game will go on as scheduled, your picnic plans are safe, and there’s nothing really to worry about today weather-wise. You expect it to be dry. But when the forecast is for eighty, ninety, or a hundred percent chance of rain, how sure are you to pack your umbrella in the morning? When it’s fifty-fifty, you don’t know. But when it’s almost certain, you adjust your life accordingly.
You fully expect it to rain.
The Proverbs that appear in the Bible (ascribed mostly to Solomon) are designed to tell us the way that life normally goes. They’re not meant to be considered absolute promises, but rather observations about the way life normally goes. So when speaking on the subject of generosity, for example, he shares what he’s found to be the most common—even if counterintuitive—outcome. Those who give the most freely, who don’t mind circulating what God has entrusted to them, appear to end up replenished instead of running out, while those who tend to hold themselves and their money back generally become poorer as a result.
The word he uses to describe generosity is “scatters.” Their lives are sort of like a roundabout—one of those traffic configurations where cars can peel off at various streets or other outlets around the circuit. Instead of having the restricted option of going either straight or turning at a ninety-degree angle, they have their pick of multiple points where the intersection can carry them off into various parts of the city.
The one who “withholds,” however, is like a dead-end road. Instead of being a conduit of spiritual adventure and opportunity, continually growing through giving, they’re typically left in want, despite all their hoarding and holding and counting and measuring. Though they should logically be the ones who pile their money up faster than anyone, something outside the sheer mathematics of the situation causes their supply to run lower than those who’ve been joyfully scattering.
That’s just the way it is. It’s how God works.
So this leaves you with a choice to make as you prepare to head out for the day. Chances are, if you’re stingy and tight-fisted with the resources that God has made available, you can expect to be heading into a dry spell where whatever money you possess is most likely to start shriveling up—if not in actual dollar value, at least in fulfillment and enjoyment. But “the generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:25). Charitable living causes all signs to point to a downpour. Generosity practically ensures the opening up of spigots of abundance—and that’s abundant blessing in multiple areas of life, beyond mere finances. Instead of your supply diminishing to a trickle, you can expect it over time to flourish into a full-blown deluge.
It’s up to you, then, if you want to pay attention to this weather report or not. But given a choice, I’d sure like to keep an umbrella handy. Just in case.
Father, thank You for the good principles You teach and cause to occur with such faithful consistency. Thank You for revealing what I can expect by either obeying Your Word or by foolishly disregarding it. Help me believe what You say in terms of money, just as I need to believe what you say about every issue in my life. Thank You for desiring to lead me by Your good and generous hand into becoming someone who is generous myself. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.