24Sometimes you can become rich
by being generous
or poor by being greedy.
25Generosity will be rewarded:
Give a cup of water,
and you will receive
a cup of water in return.
26Charge too much for grain,
and you will be cursed;
sell it at a fair price,
and you will be praised.
27Try hard to do right,
and you will win friends;
go looking for trouble,
and you will find it.
28Trust in your wealth,
and you will be a failure,
but God's people will prosper
like healthy plants.
There’s a rumor going around. It goes something like this: God will help you get rich, if you are generous. You have to be incredibly generous, and it will pay off. Verses like those in Proverbs 11:24-28 say so.
Maybe you’ve heard this rumor. The trouble is it doesn’t square with the gospel.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross so his followers could become rich, or even financially comfortable. Actually, he warned us repeatedly about the dangers of money . . . and the love of money.
So, back to today’s reading in Proverbs: “Generosity will be rewarded: Give a cup of water, and you will receive a cup of water in return” (v 25).
It’s worth noting that “wealth” in God’s economy often means something more rewarding than money or even water.
Jesus points out to the Samaritan woman that everyone who drinks water will thirst again. “But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life” (John 4:14).
Jesus also focused on generosity in the Sermon on the Mount, and he makes it clear that the way you treat others is how you will be treated by God: “If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap” (Luke 6:38).
The Lord does want us to be generous and fair with others. Not in order to get something in return, but as a response to what he has already given us. And yes, others may very well praise us and we may become well-liked, but the true rewards are eternal – “God’s people will prosper like healthy plants” (v 28).
Gracious and generous God, may we be generous, kind and fair so that we are a credit to you. Help us to keep our eye on you and to live with hearts filled with gratitude. In Jesus’ name, Amen.