godly

Rich and Satisfied

Photo by  Alfonso Ninguno  on  Unsplash

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.

Reflection—

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.

Prayer Focus—

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.

 

©Word-Strong_2018


Would you like a free study guide for Proverbs?

Click Here to get a Free Study Guide for Proverbs

Wise Counsel

How can anyone resist the pull of peer pressure? It's easy to say, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything!" But resisting the influence of others is often not so easy.

At times, the forcefulness of other people intimidates us. Some people sound so convincing when they present an opportunity or plan as an adventure or a sure bet that we need to get in on.

Taste and See

Devos & Studies in Psalms.png

Personal experience is powerful. It speaks louder than suppositions and theory. Everyone may be entitled to their opinion, but it doesn't make it true or right. Experience has a way of exposing half-truths and falsehoods.

At one point in history, leading scientists and thinkers believed the world was flat. If a person were to sail a ship towards the horizon, they thought the ship would fall off the edge of the world.

These leaders were proven wrong by the experience of the early explorers, who sailed beyond the horizon and lived to tell about it.

Scripture

By David when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech; Abimelech threw him out, so David left.
I will thank the Lord at all times. My mouth will always praise him. My soul will boast about the Lord. Those who are oppressed will hear it and rejoice. Praise the Lord’s greatness with me. Let us highly honor his name together.
I went to the Lord for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears. All who look to him will be radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame. Here is a poor man who called out. The Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles. [vss 1-6]
The Messenger of the Lord camps around those who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you holy people who belong to him. Those who fear him are never in need. Young lions go hungry and may starve, but those who seek the Lord’s help have all the good things they need.
Come, children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Which of you wants a full life? Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things? Keep your tongue from saying evil things and your lips from speaking deceitful things. Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it! [vss 7-14]
The Lord’s eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help. The Lord confronts those who do evil in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth. ⌊Righteous people⌋ cry out. The Lord hears and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to those whose hearts are humble. He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person has many troubles, but the Lord rescues him from all of them. The Lord guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken. Evil will kill wicked people, and those who hate righteous people will be condemned. The Lord protects the souls of his servants. All who take refuge in him will never be condemned. [vss 15-22]
(Psalm 34:1-22 GW) [Context– Psalm 34]

Key phrase—

Taste and see that the Lord is good—Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • Why is King David thankful to the Lord? How does he express this gratitude?
  • What is David's encouragement about the Messenger of the Lord? What are his exhortations concerning the fear of the Lord?
  • How does the Lord relate to those who are righteous and humble? How does He deal with those who are evil?
  • What are the promises and assurances given throughout this psalm for those who trust God?

Reflection...

The fear of the Lord is often misunderstood. At times it's minimized as respect, but it's more than that. Some people view it as something negative.

This psalm gives some good insight into the fear of the Lord. It's based on experiential relationship with God, a relationship built on trust.

It includes gratitude and awareness of God's goodness and faithfulness. It motivates a person to walk in the light of God's truth, so we honor Him and become a reflection of His nature.

Does the fear of the Lord involve respect? Yes, but it's a recognition and acceptance of who God is and of His power and might and holiness.

Great blessing comes with fearing the Lord in a right way, but there's a great cost for those who choose not to humble themselves before God.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • When you face troubles in life—Do you cry out to God with a thankful heart or only questions?
  • Have you learned the difference between an anxious fear and the fear of the Lord?
  • Have you experienced the blessings in life that the fear of the Lord brings?
  • In what ways have you experienced God's goodness when you've looked to Him as your refuge?

Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?

Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide

Is There Anything New Under the Sun?

As a nation, we Americans (USA) thrive on what's new. It seems to be the engine of our economy, and the goal of our pursuit of happiness. Businesses and social networks are dedicated to our pursuing this elusive pursuit of happiness.

The news media wait like vultures for the latest tragedy, disaster, or terrorist attack, then flood us with repeated images and sound bytes. Commercials tout the latest and greatest clothing style, car, or big-meal-deal that we must go out and buy. I mean, how can we live without such things?

And yet, more people than ever are medicated for depression and anxiety, while suicide rates soar. Our collective pursuit of happiness is an elusive, never-ending effort, which leaves most people empty-handed. And yet, it's nothing new. Ancient wisdom tells us this.

Scripture

The words of the spokesman, the son of David and the king in Jerusalem. “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun? Generations come, and generations go, but the earth lasts forever. [vss 1-3]

The sun rises, and the sun sets, and then it rushes back to the place where it will rise [again]. The wind blows toward the south and shifts toward the north. Round and round it blows. It blows in a full circle. All streams flow into the sea, but the sea is never full. The water goes back to the place where the streams began in order to [start] flowing again. [vss 4-7]

All of these sayings are worn-out phrases. They are more than anyone can express, comprehend, or understand. Whatever has happened before will happen [again]. Whatever has been done before will be done [again]. There is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us. [vss 8-10]

I thought to myself, “I have grown wiser than anyone who [has ruled] Jerusalem before me. I’ve had a lot of experience with wisdom and knowledge.” I’ve used my mind to understand wisdom and knowledge as well as madness and stupidity. [Now] I know that this is [like] trying to catch the wind. With a lot of wisdom [comes] a lot of heartache. The greater [your] knowledge, the greater [your] pain. [vss 16-18]

(Ecclesiastes 1:1-10; 16-18 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 1]

Key phrase— There is nothing new under the sun

[bctt tweet="There is nothing new under the sun"]

Digging Deeper...

What do you see as the main thought of all these verses?

What is the main reason for "the spokesman" saying these things?

Have you had similar thoughts as these? If so, why?

What does this spokesman (King Solomon) say about gaining all of his wisdom?

Reflection...

Could it be we are looking for the wrong kind of happiness, in the wrong places, and in the wrong way? This is the point, more or less, of the book of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon was considered the wisest man on earth (1 Kings 4:29-34). Important people from around the world came to hear his wisdom, such as the Queen of Sheba who tested his wisdom (2 Chronicles 9:1-8).

He amassed great wealth, hundreds of wives and concubines, was well-learned, and yet he viewed all of it as pointless. What would bring him to that view of life? Well, there's more to the story than that, and more to the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes.

This book is written in an ancient philosophical form called speculative wisdom. It can also be seen as a foil—a contrast—between worldly and godly wisdom. In coming studies, we'll revisit these thoughts, so keep updated on these studies posted on Fridays.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Do you ever feel life is pointless? If so, what brings you to that place?

What makes you happy? What is most important in your life?

What are ways you find to break the routine of life?

How do you keep a positive view of life, when it seem monotonous and pointless?