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).
After reading the conversation Jesus had with His disciples in Matthew 16, a question popped into my head: “How valuable are my values?”
Jesus said, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them. What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life? The Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory. Then he will pay back each person based on what that person has done (Matthew 16:24-27).”
The verses above allow a person to draw several conclusions:
- Jesus has a greater concern for the size and character of my heart than He does for the square footage and décor of my house.
- Jesus wants me to focus more on the compassion I display and less on my social status.
- Jesus isn’t worried about the promotions I’ve received, but He does want me to be pro-motion in the help I give.
- Jesus will not judge me based on the way I’ve protected my rights but on the way I helped those who have been wronged.
To make a difference in the day and hour in which you live, you need to be different in the way you craft each second of your life. You need to pick up your cross and follow Jesus. By losing your life in Him and for Him, you discover the purpose He has for you; and, your values become valuable.