Growing Richer By Giving Freely
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. (Proverbs 11:24)
As a college sophomore I spoke at a fundraising event for my Christian school. After I spoke, the chairman of the fundraising committee said something surprising to the crowd of wealthy donors: “We want this campaign not only to raise dollars for the college, but to help donors become better disciples of Jesus.”
He then explained how when he lived with generosity (here he opened his hands as if giving money away) he had peace, whereas the times he lived in stinginess (here he closed his hands into fists) were full of anxiousness and fear about money. One of the great secrets of human happiness is that we find our lives when we give them away: we “grow all the richer” when we give generously, but “suffer want” when we withhold.
Twenty-five hundred years ago the prophet Isaiah counseled Israel how to rebuild their nation after a series of judgments from God. These judgments came in part because of the selfishness and oppression of the ruling classes of the poor. But spiritual renewal was possible, Isaiah proclaimed, if the people would learn to live generously:
If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your gloom will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
That is, the doer of good deeds benefits as much as the recipient, because the doer is morally transformed along the way. God replaces the darkness of human sin with the radiance of his character; the Message paraphrase renders this passage even more strikingly: “Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.”
You may or may not get financially richer when you give money away, but you will certainly become spiritually richer. God will exchange the gloomy life of self-centeredness, greed, and tight-fistedness with the brightness of kindness, generosity, and the joy of seeing others’ thrive.
So today, how can you give your life away in order to gain it? Who are the people that you can support with your attention, your affection, your money, and your prayers? If you hoard your life and possessions you’ll never feel that you have enough; but amazingly, if you give it away, you’ll have more than you have ever thought possible, as you are swept into God’s own joy in giving.
Father, I praise you for being a generous God. I want to give away material wealth to gain spiritual joy. Fill me with your love and generosity today, and show me how and to whom I can give freely. In Christ’s Name, Amen.