While I was doing a little reading last night, I found my way to Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed (ESV).” The Message provides this rendering of that verse: “Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,and God pays back those loans in full.”
After reading this verse, a couple of questions came to my mind:
- If God repays those who are generous to the poor, how does he reward those who are miserly?
- Is this verse to be interpreted in just a physical sense or is their also a spiritual significance as in the poverty of the nonbeliever?
My musing led me to think about how this verse could be applied to the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. In this story a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed and left badly beaten. This man was seen by three different individuals:
- The thieves saw him and said: “What’s yours is ours, so we’ll just take it.”
- The priest saw him and said: “What’s mine is mine, and I won’t share it.”
- The Samaritan said: “What’s mine is God’s, so I’ll bless you with it.”
Which of these three individuals embraced the principle of Proverbs 19:17? Which one of the them showed mercy, exhibited kindness, and manifested generosity? How do you respond when you see someone in need?
Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to the Lord—
the benefit of his gift will return to him in abundance.
Proverbs 19:17 (ISV).