Lessons on Generosity from Proverbs
I’m reading through the Bible using the Skövde Pingst reading plan on the YouVersion app. Click here to sign up and let me know if you are reading along. I’d love to have you join me in reading!
Most of my posts tie into what God is teaching me in my daily reading, which is also part of my S.O.A.P journal. Here are some past posts on S.O.A.P. journaling – Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer: Reading Through the Bible and The Divine Mentor. I highly recommend making daily Bible reading and prayer a top priority. Even if you only have 10-15 minutes a day; I promise it will be a life-changer!
Today’s reading included Proverbs 11. The Bible talks a lot about Generosity, especially in Proverbs. God wants us to give not because giving benefits him; but giving benefits us. It changes our hearts. Where we spend our time and money is where our heart will be focused.
Personally, I am trying to make a conscious effort to have my life focused on what matters most – my walk with Jesus, my marriage, my kids, serving others and collecting memories over collecting things. Where I spend my money and time reflects these things. Where we chose to spend our time and money also changes our heart to make those things a higher priority.
For example, if I am giving my money to a certain non-profit or church my heart will be more inclined to care about that church or cause.
Generosity goes beyond just money. For me, it is very easy (and tempting) to get busy with my career and to-do list. I find it helpful to regularly take a few minutes to contemplate where my heart is in the areas below. If I am getting off track I need to make a purposeful decision to change my focus by giving more generously.
- Time Generosity: How am I spending my time? How many hours a day am I looking at social media or watching TV compared to how many hours a day am I spending doing something meaningful that has eternal value, like volunteering at a homeless shelter or praying and reading the Bible?
- Attention Generosity: Where is my attention? I often catch myself multi-talking when my children or husband are talking to me. For example, when my daughter wants to tell me all the stories about recess I’ll often listen while also swiping through Instagram photos. I need to stop. Put the phone down. Make eye-contact. Really listen. Nod my head. Ask her questions. Have a conversation with her and give her my full attention, rather than having half my mind elsewhere.
- Energy Generosity: I only have so much energy to expend every day. Am I using it on activities that really matter? For example, how often am I “too tired” to have sex with my husband? Is my schedule so overbooked that I don’t ever have time to go on a date with my husband? Am I running myself ragged with so many commitments that my daily time with Jesus and my family get put on a back burner? These can even include good and healthy activities – volunteering, reading, exercising, cleaning, kids’ sports and activities, etc. But if my schedule is so booked that I get to the end of the day and just want to collapse into bed, I need to take a good hard look at my priorities.
- Financial Generosity: In my life I know that the more I give the more I am blessed. Whether I am giving to my church, a non-profit that helps orphans or a cause that helps feed the poor; giving fills my heart. But there are times when I am looking at my budget and cringe. I don’t think I have the financial cushion to give. Giving money can hurt . . . for a season. But I’ve never given money and then regretted it. Do your research on who you are giving to (for nonprofits you can review their financials at Guidestar) and then make a decision to give. You will be blessed.
A Life Focused on What Matters Most.
God had offered the Israelites blessing upon blessing if they just followed him. And they would . . . for a short while. And then they would reject him. He wanted to be their King and take care of them, but they kept walking away from him.
I can relate to this.
I could give you a million examples from my teens and early 20s, but even now in my 40s (when I am reading my Bible every day and should be more mature) I reject God regularly. I put idols above him. I disobey him.
God’s number one command is to love him with all my heart. And second to love others. If you were a fly on the wall in my house some days, observing how I spend my time, you’d think my greatest loves were Facebook, being exasperated with my kids, Word Cookies, and my career and budget.
God had offered the Israel – his chosen people – a life of peace and blessings. But they chose something else. They wanted another king. A human king. They wanted to fit in with other nations who had “real” kings. They came to the prophet Samuel and asked him to find them a king. Samuel was personally offended, but when he came to God, God said:
“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” 1 Samuel 8:7 NIV
How many times have I done the same thing? Put someone or something on a pedestal. How often have I made it my main focus, instead of Jesus?
But the wonderful thing is, even though Israel strayed from God over and over, when they repented and turned back, God was right there waiting. Still loving them. Still protecting them. Showing mercy and grace.
And he does the same thing for me and for you.
Prayer: Dear God, Please show me areas of my life where I have put people or things above you. And help me to always put you first.
Several years ago I purchased The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian at the Goodwill and it was one of the best purchases I’ve made. I love this book. It helps me direct my prayers for my husband and each prayer is so personal and powerful.
I especially loved today’s prayer that started more for me than my husband:
“God, I proclaim You Lord over my life. Help me to seek You first every day and set my priorities in perfect order. Reveal to me how to properly put my husband before children, work, family, friends, activities and interests. Show me what I can do right now to demonstrate to him that he has this position in my heart. Mend the times I have caused him to doubt that. Tell me now to prioritize everything so that whatever steals life away, or has no lasting purpose, will not occupy my time.”
This is my prayer for today – and hopefully every day. I want to prioritize everything in the order it should go and keep my time and energy focused on what matters most.
P.S. One slightly embarrassing, though related, side-note: when I was a kid we had Stormie Omartian “Exercise for Life” workout tapes. Not VHS tapes. Actual cassette player tapes. I’d get my leg warmers on and do these tapes every day. I found a YouTube copy of the cassette. Just listing to this 80’s Christian techno makes we want to workout!
When I started getting more serious about my spiritual walk over four years ago I was very focused on my career. It took almost all my energy just to get done with my daily to-do list. And though I hate to admit it, my husband and children were often another item on the list that needed to be tended to and maintained. And reading the Bible was something I did if I had the time and energy at the end of the day.
Through a Bible study I felt a whisper: my priorities were all wrong and my identity was in the wrong place. I was putting my worth in my professional accomplishments. I needed to put God first. Then my husband (and I needed to respect him, something I am TERRIBLE at). Then loving my children and demonstrated to them how to live a godly life. I’ll be really honest, the thing I was most concerned with demonstrating to my children was how to be a hard-working, driven, successful woman. Demonstrating to them how to submit to God’s will wasn’t on my radar. And demonstrating respect to my husband didn’t cross my mind.
Now, almost five years later, I still have the same struggle. Today I read in Romans 7. Most of the time, I feel like this chapter sums up my spiritual life. I want to do good,but I don’t. I don’t want to sin, but I do.
So what is the answer?
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5 NIV
The answer is where I set my mind. The more time I spend reading the Bible, studying, praying, memorizing verses . . . the more my actions change. The more I submit to God. The more I respect my husband. The more I love my children.
I can’t change on my own. But the more time I spend with God the more my life is transformed.