We come now to what I consider to be a third pillar of wisdom - generosity. This subject, too, is a favorite theme of Proverbs. Today's text tells us that when we move out of ourselves and give to others, we too are refreshed. An old Welsh proverb says: "The greatest joy in giving is to be the one who gives." We must not take this to mean that we ought to focus on generosity because it brings rewards. Generosity that is exercized simply for the purpose of reward is not generosity. The reward comes as a by-product of giving. I have heard those who study questions of right and wrong pull today's text to pieces. They say that this (and similar statements found in the Word of God) make Christianity a form of sophisticated selfishness. Christians, they say, give to others because it makes them feel good, not because it is the right way to live. Christianity, they conclude, is an indirect form of selfishness. Well, we must admit that some Christians might look at things in this way but I imagine they are few and far between. I love the way Charles Harthern, a preacher of a bygone generation, described giving: "Some give like sponges - only when they are squeezed. Some give like Moses' rock - only when they are hit. True Christians, however, give like the honeysuckle - because they delight to give." That's the secret - giving because one delights to give. The generous hand must comes from a generous heart. If the heart is not generous, then however much the hand gives, there is no true generosity.
Gracious and loving heavenly Father, I ask for the blessing, not only of trust and integrity, but of generosity also. And I ask not just to get a blessing, but to give a blessing. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
For further study:
1. How are we to give?