Freely Generous

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Proverbs 11:25    
The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

When you read the first half of that proverb, what do you think? “The generous will prosper ….” What does it mean to be generous? The Google dictionary says: (of a person) showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected. That’s good, isn’t it? We’d all like to be thought of as generous. It is a character trait that we hold in high regard.

What does it mean to be prosperous? Again, the Google dictionary offers one definition: successful in material terms; flourishing financially. Well, that’s good too, right? Who doesn’t want to flourish financially? But what does this proverb mean? It seems as though the two are incompatible in this day and age. Is the proverb saying that if we are generous, we will prosper materially? Television preachers love to camp out on this idea. You will hear them asking you to “sow a seed” into their ministry, thus “guaranteeing” God’s material blessing. I attended a service once where the preacher said that God had put Psalm 139 on his heart, so he felt that the seed would be multiples of $139. Really? Well, who am I to question what God says to another person? It just doesn’t seem to ring true with the teachings of Jesus.

Luke 6:29-30 
29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.

Does that sound like prosperity to you? I think it sounds like freedom. I think it sounds like what you have, you’ve received from God. Sure, you may think you earned it – but only through the gifts and talents God gave you, only by the place of your birth and the family into which you were born, through no choice of your own. Good or bad, those circumstances along with the gifts God gave to you have made you who you are today. When we give generously, we hold those gifts with an open hand. They are not ours to keep; they are ours to give away. Freedom comes when you are not a slave to your stuff. Generosity allows us to give what we’ve been given, and that freedom brings prosperity. This prosperity is not necessarily financial prosperity. It is a prosperity of the spirit, freedom from the encumbrances of stuff!

I have gone on many mission trips to Central America. First-timers are always amazed at how happy the people of these developing countries are, especially since they have so little in the way of those things we deem necessities for a comfortable existence. They are also typically amazed with their host family’s generosity. Because these families often have so little, they tend to appreciate all the gifts God has given. They jump at the opportunity to bless others as they have been blessed. They are the people I picture when I read this proverb because they get it. “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

Have you been blessed by someone else’s generosity? How did that feel?

Who do you think you could bless with your generosity? Will this bring freedom to you?

Next Steps:
Look around your life and find someone whom you could bless through your prosperity. This is not always money. It can be a service, a gift of time, a note of appreciation. Be creative!

Father, I can never repay what it cost you to purchase my freedom, but I know I can bless others with all you have given me. Help me to hold those gifts with an open hand that allows me to be generous. Then I can prosper in and enjoy the depths of your love. “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,  and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63: 3-4).

This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.

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