December 12

Blessed to Be a Blessing

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it…Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”  (Proverbs 11:25-26; 22:9)

I never was good at receiving material gifts, but I am getting better at it the older I become. I believe that this is because I enjoy giving to others, and therefore appreciate that people enjoy giving gifts to me at appropriate times. Recently I encouraged a Christian friend who loves to give her time and love to others, to allow others to contribute to a material need, rather than deny them the same opportunity that she enjoys. One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is from Acts 20:35, “…we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” The joy of giving is a blessing that inspires and teaches us to receive joyfully from others who also enjoy giving. Blessings abound when people are giving to others. Perhaps that is why Giving Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become so popular—and isn’t it encouraging that so many people use that opportunity to make meaningful contributions to so many good causes?

In the Proverbs passages, the one giving is described as bringing blessings, watering, selling and sharing with an eye toward those in need. It is unlikely that we would naturally combine these four actions into one cohesive idea. However all four verbs carry with them the meaning of helping or providing for someone. They do not address the “how” of giving; they are not necessarily all sacrificial or self-denying, since selling probably benefits the seller, although some merchants may choose to sell below cost to help some. But they all add something to someone, whether that something is general, like blessings, or specific, like fresh water for a thirsty soul or a farmer’s dry crops. “We must not hoard up the gifts of God’s bounty, merely for our own advantage.” (1) 

As a result of blessing, watering, selling, or sharing, the giver is him or herself enriched, watered, and blessed. When I read these verses over to myself, I wasn’t sure about the source of the blessing to the giver, and now I am not sure it matters since all blessings ultimately come from the Lord. “The soul that [doesn’t] merely pray for a blessing upon others, and wish them well, and give them good words; but bestows blessings on them, gives good things unto them liberally, cheerfully, and plentifully; and so is a blessing to the poor, and receives a blessing from them again.” I think the Reformation Study Bible makes an excellent point that can serve as the principle of this devotion: “Our own well-being is bound up with that of others so that what we do for their good benefits us as well.” (3) Rather than concentrate on how you or I may benefit as individuals because of our giving or someone else’s, let’s remember that we are one body in the Lord, created for community and interdependence. 

Are you willing to spend time with your church body this season, encouraging and helping each other and your church neighbors? How will we share in the blessings of Christmas for a more consistent pattern of blessing each other through the season?

(1) Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 11:26, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-concise/proverbs/11.html

(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 11:25, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-11.html

(3) The Reformation Study Bible, Proverbs 22:9, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015. 

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