What does the Bible have to say about wealth, budgeting, business, saving and investing? A lot. At the end of each week, I’d like to look at a verse concerning our heart posture towards God and money. We’ll examine how the verse addresses the practical issues of life, as well as our mindset on the gift of money God has given us. Ultimately, we should see Jesus.
"There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered."
A proverb is a simple but concrete saying that is easily repeatable and understood. A proverb uses common sense wisdom to communicate truth. The book of Proverbs is an interesting book, because it doesn't follow a formal structure. Each phrase stands alone, and it is usually difficult to gain insight into what Solomon is trying to communicate by reading the verses surrounding a particular text. I personally like to read more structured books. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to avoid the wisdom found in these succinct phrases. Let's dive in.
First, the passage is contrasting the one who is generous (by freely scattering grain) and the one who is greedy (withholds what is justly due). It's interesting that Solomon would use the analogy of a farmer scattering grain in order to illustrate the necessity of generosity. In this highly agricultural society, a person's wealth was directly linked to their ability to raise crops and livestock. The person who scatters grain freely would yield a larger crop. The one who is greedy will have a small harvest, but would want a large one.
Solomon is showing the inverse relationship between giving and hoarding. Those who are greedy and unwilling to scatter (give) freely, will only want more. They aren't going to see the results that they long for. Essentially, Solomon is giving the counterintuitive advice that in order to get more, you have to give more. He concludes by saying that the "generous man who waters will himself be watered." If a farmer were to use a valuable, life sustaining resource like water on another person's crop, he will be prosperous. How? Solomon is suggesting that someone else would provide water for him. Whether this person is God or another generous person, the point is that generosity doesn't cause those who are generous to be in need but instead produces abundance for them.
We can't out give God. This passage also teaches that we can't value wealth over relationships. Being generous keeps us from worshiping our money, from being in need because of our greed, and from seeing our wealth as more desirable than people.