Tag Archives: Giving

All About Integrity

Proverbs chapter eleven is all about integrity.

What does inegrity entail?

Honesty

Telling the truth and doing what’s right is important. Honesty is life-affirming, acknowledging the image of God in others, and, honestly, keeping life simple. It is easier to keep your story straight when you tell the truth and do what’s right.

Responsibility

Doing what’s right, doing what one ought, is also life-affirming. Sin is most often associated with what we did wrong, but it includes what we don’t do that we should. If we did what was needed when it should be done (right away or when time allows), life would be easier. Owning mistakes is included, as growth comes more quickly. It is irresponsible to shift the blame or hope “someone else will do it.” It is better to do what is right, even if someone else could or should do it.

Generosity

Giving to others or taking up the burden of another demonstrates generosity. And – you probably guessed it – it is life affirming. It shows love to others. It tells others “You are worth it.” It clears up problems before they even exist or before they are out of control.

Living with Integrity

If you want to live with integrity, live out the concepts of Proverbs. Take five minutes and read the entire chapter and see how integrated and interrelated all of these concepts are.

They represent God’s character, and living with integrity makes your character more like His.

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

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Rich or Poor

Proverbs 22:16  

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich – both come to poverty. (NIV)

There is a school of thought that says that without poverty wealth could not exist; that one man’s poverty is another man’s riches. But I’m not rich you say! I work hard to pay my mortgage and my car loan, and to feed and clothe my family. However, if you have a mortgage on a property that boasts running water, heat and light, etc., then you are rich in comparison to many fellow citizens of planet earth.

Is it wrong then to own property? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it is necessary for all of us to examine ourselves, and the way that we live. Do we give, and are we generous in our giving? Or do we keep all that we have for ourselves justifying our actions by believing that we cannot afford to give? Is giving just about money? What about time? What about company? And at its most basic level what about a smile or a greeting for each person you meet? Just yesterday I said good morning to a man sweeping the floor at Dublin Airport. All the other passengers walked past without looking at him. It cost me nothing, but by his response I knew that my greeting was appreciated.

There is also a danger of pride in financial giving. Carefully setting aside that 10% tithe and feeling good about it is not what giving is all about. Jesus pointed out the poor widow who put all that she had in the offertory box. Tony Campolo once said that we should forget about the 10% we tithe and question what we do with the 90% we keep for ourselves. One thing for certain is that whatever we have in material terms it cannot leave the planet with us. So why then do we hoard? Could it be that this proverb is aimed at all of us, to encourage generosity in all aspects of our daily lives?


Generous Eyes

Proverbs 22:9

“He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.” – NKJV

Always

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Never say never?” I heard it a lot in the days before the birth of my first child. I would say things like, “I will NEVER let my child…” That’s when people who knew better would offer insight based on their own experiences.

There are some decisions that should be made in advance, however; decisions preceded by a firm absolute. For example, I have said many times that I will never let my daughters leave the house looking like a “prostitot,” and I mean it.

But what about the word always? Isn’t that an absolute statement we should avoid? Should we always be giving? Should we always be generous?

Give

My father, a generous man, told me, “Son, if a bum on the street walks up to you and asks for a dollar, always give what you can…you never know who it might be.” He would never “withhold” when he had the power to give something (Prov. 3:27), and he was a firm believer in the possibility that every beggar could be a heavenly messenger:  “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2).

But more importantly, my father was wise enough to understand that it’s not really about what we give and to whom, although that is important; it’s about the heart. A person with a “bountiful eye” loves to give, especially to those who are less fortunate. Like the Good Samaritan, we are not told to question why our neighbor is lying in the ditch, or how he came to be in that situation, but to offer kindness and generosity. Even when it is impossible to give money, a sacrifice of kindness is always appropriate.

Blessings

When we give blessings we get blessings in return. It may not be in this life, but the promises of God are true: he who has a generous eye WILL be blessed.

Doesn’t it make you feel good to give? Wouldn’t you like to come into a bunch of money and then use it to fund an orphanage, provide for struggling families, or give to missions? Well, it doesn’t take a few people giving a lot, just a lot of people with a heart for giving.

Remember, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given” (Prov. 19:17 NKJV). God is no man’s debtor.

 


Working to Give

Proverbs 21:25-26

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”
“Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!” – NLT

Work

As I sit here typing this “thought” for the day, my body is aching and my eyes are still blinking hard trying to bring the world into focus. Trying to make ends meet, I have been getting up early and going to bed late as I work on several different jobs and projects. Visiting, studying, making calls for work, painting cabinets, attending meetings, practicing music for a recording, and preaching have worn me out.

But if the truth be known, I would rather be tired from working than worn out from doing nothing. I would rather have a paycheck in a blistered hand than nothing in a soft, weak hand. I would rather say my bills are a little behind than say all my bills are paid by the government. I’d rather die from working than die from being lazy.

Giving

There are few things more enjoyable than to be able to give to others. The problem with the “slothful” is that he is always wanting, always greedy, always talking big and promising bigger, but never giving.

The reason the godly love to give is because they love to see others happy. As a matter of fact, Jesus says when when they give unto the least of His brothers and sisters, they give unto Him (Matt. 25:40), so giving becomes an offering of praise.

The slothful only care about themselves. They have nothing to give as a true offering, for nothing they have has any true value – they haven’t worked for it (See 2 Samuel 24:24).

Now, time to get back to work. I have some giving I’d like to do.


The Perfect Gift

Proverbs 21:14 

A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury. (NLT)

I don’t recall receiving any secret gifts, or any bribes for that matter. I have been asked to pay bribes, the last time when going through passport control in a certain African country. The request for payment was not to pacify anger, but to smooth my way through immigration when I had already paid the official fee. But when should gifts be made to placate an angry person? The Bible provides some examples, although those I can think of were not made in secret.

There is the example of Jacob returning home with his family and flocks. Having cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright many years before Jacob was somewhat apprehensive about the sort of greeting Esau might have in mind when Jacob arrived on the doorstep. In fact, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob after their father died (Genesis 27:41). So Jacob sent flocks and herds ahead as a gift for his brother. As it happened Esau had already put the past behind him and had more than plenty. He was genuinely pleased to see his brother again, and to discover that God had blessed him.

Then there was the time that David sent his men to Nabal, the local rich man, to ask for food and water. Nabal read David’s men their fortune and told them to take a hike. When they returned to David he blew a fuse, and together with 400 armed men headed back to find Nabal and read him his fortune. While Nabal was a fool, he was married to a smart lady by the name of Abigail. She took charge of the situation, and headed off to meet David with more than enough supplies to feed David and his men (1 Samuel 25).

This proverb and the two examples from Scripture indicate that there may be times when gifts need to be made, and not only in secret. While there are times when a gift may correct a wrong, God’s people are encouraged to be generous. There should be occasions in all of our lives when a gift should be made for no other reason than to bring joy to another human being.

There is a gift that should be made in secret. It is the gift of our time when we choose to find a quiet place at the start of the day to surrender ourselves completely before God. We do so knowing that God’s anger at our failings was pacified when Jesus gave His life as the perfect gift. Such a perfect gift requires only one response. How do you express your gratitude?

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)


Giving is Honoring

Proverbs 14:31

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.”
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” – ESV

Do You Hate God?

It’s as simple as this: if you take advantage of or mistreat the poor, you hate God. End of story. On the other hand, if you love God, then you will have mercy on the poor.

Do you remember old Scrooge? Remember how he despised the idea of giving money to help the poor and needy. At one point he said, “Are there no prisons? [The workhouses], are they still in operation?” Yet, when he got the “Christmas spirit” he had a change of heart and gave more than anyone else?

Beware the Blowhard

Don’t let any pompous blowhard convince you he loves his Maker if he never drops a dime in a Salvation Army kettle. Never trust a religious deacon who raises the rent on his commercial property in order to keep the single moms away. The lottery promoter who makes huge profits on the backs of those who can barely afford to put food on the table…well, he might as well spit in the face of Christ.

His Hands and Feet

We are the hands and feet of Christ in this world. We are to help those who need help as if the Lord was here in the flesh doing it Himself. That is what it means to be Christ-like. Of course, there are needs which will never be met, no matter how hard we try. But showing mercy is a sure sign we are honoring the one who showed greater mercy, giving us everything in the gift of His Son.


Don’t Be a Scrooge

Anthony, Grady, and Daniel

Anthony, Grady, and Daniel

(A Note from the desk of the Editor: It has truly been a privilege to host Daniel Klem and his wife, Caitlin, for the last couple of days. It was the first time we ever had the chance to meet in person. We thank the Lord for brothers and sisters in Christ! Also in the picture is Grady Davidson, who also just met Daniel – we already knew each other.)

Proverbs 11:24-26

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”

First let me clear up the potentially confusing part:

This is not political!

Now let me explain this a bit:

This particular passage basically says “Some people give all they have, yet they always have what they need or more. Others hold onto everything they think they have, but they really have nothing. The former are loved and lavished upon. The latter are hated.”

Misers versus Givers

Do you know the story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol? I am specifically talking about Ebenezer Scrooge.

He is known as the stingiest man in town. He counts every cent, never spends more than he absolutely has to, and is not very kind to others.

Nobody likes him.

And the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come shows him dying alone and his stuff stolen by nere-do-wells who complain about and ridicule him.

Conversely, I know a family who is always struggling to make ends meet. Yet they always have enough food to eat. In fact, they have dozens of people visit on an average of at least once a week. They have been literal and figurative foster parents to many children, teens, and young adults, and their biological children always know they are loved and accepted. They have traveled all over and impacted so many …

… because they give their all, their everything, for all people.

Physical and Spiritual

To be truly blessed in this life, we need to be willing to give up everything. This means money, things, cars, homes, stuff, and even people.

To be truly blessed, we need to be willing to give up literally everything. We need to be willing to die. Die physically and figuratively to our own selves, our wants and desires, our plans and hopes.

In their place, we must put the Love of God. God is our greatest hope, should be our greatest desire, and be the foundation of all our plans and our lives.

Then we will not be able to help loving others and giving of ourselves.

Ask that family.

Gracious and loving Father, instill in us a desire to love. Fill us with a passion for others. Give us more of You than we can handle that we may see You overflow into others. Do not let us get stuck on things and silly desires. Free us to free others.