One person spends freely and yet grows richer,
while another holds back what he owes and yet grows poorer.
A generous person will be made rich,
and whoever satisfies others will himself be satisfied.
People will curse the one who hoards grain,
but a blessing will be upon the head of the one who sells it. (Proverbs 11:24-26 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 11:20-31 GW)
"It's not about you!" You've likely heard this expression, maybe even said it. It's become a favorite put-down said when a person doesn't want to answer someone or explain something.
The trouble is—we live in a world of "me." It's common for people to ask, "What's in it for me?" Millions of selfies and personal opinions flood various social media daily.
The focus on getting rich and being satisfied is an American obsession. It occupies most every free moment we're awake, including daydreams at work, and perhaps even our dreams at night.
Yet, the idea of growing rich and being satisfied in these few verses of Proverbs is based on unselfishness. It's the opposite of what you might think and is expressed in contrasting and complementary statements.
The first of these three verses make this clear. Here it is from another Bible version—
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. (Prov 11:24 ESV)
As Jesus told His followers when He sent them out for ministry—"Freely you have received; freely give" (Matt 10:8 NIV).
This is so contrary to a self-centered idea of getting rich. In the wording of Proverbs being rich or prosperous speaks of far more than material wealth (see link below or here — Proverbs Study Guide).
Many Americans who travel to poorer nations see the generosity and hospitality of people living in poverty and marvel at it. Why? The concept of contentment and happiness is often tied to material possessions.
Can a person be generous and still become prosperous? Yes, especially in God's economy. If the focus is on wealth and prosperity, it's a setup for disappointment and discontent.
Many wealthy people give away great amounts of their wealth for the benefit of others. It's called philanthropy. Of course, there are plenty of wealthy people who hold on to all to their wealth and possessions tightly and whose lives are empty and lacking satisfaction.
The obvious focus in these verses is on others, not self. This is the point. It's not a formula or scheme. It's an attitude of the heart.
Want to be rich and satisfied? First, figure out what is motivating you. Also, are you thinking short-term or long-term?
If you run after personal riches and satisfaction, you might find it in the short-run but you'll end up poor and dissatisfied in the end. But if your concern is for others, God will honor it.
The Lord values those who care and value others. And His blessing isn't restricted by time—the present and future are all the same to Him. He often honors us with temporary wealth and satisfaction when we don't hold on to it too tightly in this life.
The key to richness and satisfaction that honors God and is a lasting blessing to us personally is unselfishness—when we are considerate of others not just ourselves.
Running after personal riches and satisfaction in the short-run leads to a personal poverty and dissatisfaction in the end. But concern for others honors God who in turn will honor us for our unselfishness.
Ask God for a heart that seeks what honors God and for an unselfish attitude of heart daily. As you seek God for this, look for the opportunities God brings into your life where you can give freely and to enjoy what satisfies in the truest sense.
- Here's another post on the same verses published in Faith Hacking on Medium— The Problem with Stinginess
Would you like a free study guide for Proverbs?