This blog post was conceived a few months ago after studying 1Sam 30. Three groups of persons emerged in the chapter based on the way they managed abundance and wealth:
- The squanderer
- The hoarder
- The liberal giver
I was so intrigued with the liberal giver that I searched for as many of them as I could find in the Bible, to see what I could learn from them. I knew a number of them before; it was inspiring to reflect on the lessons I learnt from them in the past. They have fired me up again. I will share with you in this post and the next, the lessons I learnt from these liberal givers. I will reserve the squanderers and hoarders for another day.
To set the stage, let me share some thoughts on liberal giving.
A liberal giver is like a farmer who sows abundant seeds on a good field. Liberal givers sow seeds of goodness into the lives of people connected with them.
Seeds have great potentials, and when nurtured, they produce an abundance, greatness and significance. Within the seed is the potential for multiplication, so seeds multiply. No seed is ordinary, no matter how tiny or invisible to human eyes as it may be. Every seed is a seed of destiny because it can influence destiny. Every seed is a seed of significance because it has the potential to make a difference. Every seed is a seed of promise, because it carries a promise to bring about a bountiful harvest.
Except a seed falls down and dies it cannot live and bring forth fruit. A seed must fall into the ground and die to bring forth fruit. Unless the seed is sown, it cannot bring forth harvest, it remains alone (John 12: 23-25).
As a seed must fall away from the hands of the farmer into a fertile soil to bring forth a good harvest, the gift also has to be separated from the hands of the giver. There must be a letting-go for the giving to be a blessing.
A liberal generous giver is a person who recognizes God as the Giver of everything he has. He knows God as the Source of the favour and blessings he is enjoying.
There are many examples of liberal givers in the Bible. As believers are God’s children by covenant, we are called by God to be a blessing. God in His covenant with Abraham declared; “…I will bless you; I will make your name great, AND YOU WILL BE A BLESSING (Gen 12:2), that is, a dispenser of good—one who dispenses good to others. Liberal generous givers are a blessing to others.
There are many lessons to learn from Abraham as a dispenser of good. His life was a blessing to others. The way he allowed Lot, his nephew, to make the first choice of land. Then he went the extra mile to rescue Lot in Genesis 14, and he interceded on behalf of Lot when God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins. These are classic examples of the generosity extended to someone who does not appear to deserve it.
In Genesis 18, Abraham offered hospitality to three strangers. An added dimension was the fact that he hastened (he ran) to ensure the food was prepared with speed. His giving was with great enthusiasm, cheerfulness and without holding back. He went over and beyond the bread and water that was necessary, he provided meat, curds and milk to the strangers.
He taught me to be magnanimous by giving consideration to others first. He taught me that generosity can be extended to those who don’t deserve it—since I am also a recipient of God’s unmerited favour—grace. I learnt from him that I should go the extra mile in my giving, not just the minimum required because there is a blessing in going over and above the minimum. I learnt also to give with enthusiasm and with great attention to details.
Her generosity to Naomi is an example of sacrificial giving. She sacrificed the security of marriage among her people and sacrificially committed to living her life with Naomi to take care of her (Ruth 1:16-18).
Sometimes those in need are resistance to our help and may want to be left alone in their misery and loneliness. But our sensitivity to their needs and concerns driven by our passion for God will lead us to let love and faithfulness override their resistance. Ruth refused to give up on Naomi despite the insistent persuasion to be left alone. When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
She taught me to be sensitive to the needs of those around me and never to give up on them even when my efforts are resisted or even rejected. She also taught me long before I got married; never to go to my mother-in-law empty-handed. When she was given food to eat, she reserved some for Naomi after she was satisfied (Ruth 2:18). I am glad today that I learnt this lesson early enough. I cannot begin to recount the blessing it brought me.
Ruth’s sacrificial and generous giving went before her. Boaz heard of it before he met her and pronounced a blessing on her: “May the Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord…” (Ruth 2:12).
After his brothers had thrown him into the well-like pit, they sat down and ate the lunch Joseph brought for them (Gen 37:24). I can imagine that he must have been very frightened down in that pit. I can imagine him hearing his brothers’ voices as they ate. And I can imagine how he must have pleaded with them to show mercy. But they hardened their heart to their brother’s plea.
When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, there was no trace of bitterness rather he wept and so loudly that the entire household of Pharaoh heard him. He forgave completely without holding back; “Come near to me, I pray you…” (Gen 45:4).
He sowed the seed of forgiveness and showed mercy to the same people who withheld mercy from him. He willingly shared his largess with his brothers and gave them a possession in the best portion of the land.
Jacob at his death pronounced an astounding blessing on Joseph. He declared that he is a fruitful bough (denoting extra-ordinary increase) by a well, spring or fountain. He is well-watered like the trees by the rivers of living waters. He brings forth bountiful harvest of fruits, and his branches run over the wall (Gen 49:22).
Joseph was an inexhaustible dispenser of good, and the giving of his fruitfulness transcends beyond the usual boundaries of an enclosed garden. He spreads his largess abroad. The blessing of God on him was great. I learnt from Joseph that there is no limit to the blessings we can dispense to others irrespective of how we have been treated. He gave liberally and generously the gift of mercy and forgiveness.
Dear Friends, do you know more of such liberal givers? We all have been blessed with seeds we can sow into lives, what are you doing with your seed?
Liberal givers dispense goodness, they sow seeds of goodness into the lives of others.
May God’s grace richly abound to you that you may abound in every good works.
To be continued.