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Proverbial Hump Day: Proverbs 11:24-26
Abundance breeds abundance
Abundance breeds abundance. That’s the lesson in today’s proverbs, Proverbs 11:24-26.
One gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds what is right, only to become poor.
A generous soul will prosper,
and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
The people will curse the hoarder of grain,
but blessing will crown the one who sells it.
Do These Proverbs Back Up the Claims of the Prosperity Gospel?
The prosperity gospel has a long and storied history here in America. In some sense, you could say it’s a “home-grown” philosophy, probably because America was founded on Christian and capitalistic principles—or so the narrative goes. But is it biblical? Do these verses in Proverbs back up the claims of the prosperity gospel, or do they hint at something else?
I think there is a spiritual reality within the three proverbs that is often lost by nuance, or the lack of it.
On the one hand, a man reaps what he sows. On the other, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Jesus told his disciples that whatever they ask for will be given to them. Yet, God installs kings and removes them. What shall we believe?
A not-so-close reading of the book of Job should reveal that God has no interest in making every man wealthy. Job started with wealth, health, and happiness and lost it all. Then, God gave him so much more wealth than what Job started with. He even blessed Job with more children, but his original children were still dead. Lesson: Great gain often comes at a great loss. I can imagine Job feeling the pain of his loss until the day of his death while enjoying the benefits of his blessings as a result of his faith.
The problem with faith is that it is dependent on that which is its object. Having faith in prosperity, or faith in faith, produces nothing. Only faith in the One who can restore us to wholeness has any power to produce wholeness. But what do the proverbs mean when they say “one gives freely, yet gains even more,” “a generous soul will prosper,” and “he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed?”
I think these verses are universal. That is, they apply to all—believer and unbeliever alike. The psalmist proclaimed, “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
He didn’t say that only the wicked prosper. He said he envied the arrogant because the wicked prospered. But here’s the catch: God has built into His creation certain laws that cannot be violated. Gravity, for instance, works because it is a physical property of the universe. I also believe the universe has its spiritual properties. Reaping and sowing is one of those. That’s why so many people who do not believe in God rely on the Law of Attraction for their success, and they can show that it works!
God did not put us on earth to be successful, to be wealthy, to be prosperous. He put us here to glorify Him. To worship Him. Then He gave us the ability to choose whether we do that.
Either we can live within the universal laws that govern creation while pursuing God’s eternal purpose or we can focus on the benefits of the here and now, idolizing the creation and its laws. We cannot do both. God designed the universe to operate the way it does, but not for our own glory, not for our own comfort, not for our own desires. That’s why James could say, “You crave what you do not have … but are unable to obtain it.”
Giving, generosity, refreshing … are you doing it for God’s glory or your own?