Genesis 47:23-25 Then Joseph said to the people, “Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. “And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.” So they said, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.”
The people of Egypt were well into the seven year famine and had already given all they possessed to buy food from Pharaoh. Left with nothing else, they sold their land and themselves to him as well that they might have food to sustain them through the remainder of the famine. They are given seed to sow in the land and they are allowed to work the land and keep 4/5th of the produce. Pharaoh required 1/5th for himself. And they were happy to give it, acknowledging “you have saved our lives”. They didn’t grumble over the 1/5 that they had to give to Pharaoh. If he hadn’t intervened in their lives they would have 0/5ths.
It reminds me of this passage in the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
Just like Joseph, the Lord gives seed to the sower and bread for food. And that seed, which He multiplies, is that we may be a people of liberality, generously giving of the increase that God provides, because He has saved our lives.
Must we consider our giving an obligation that we perform grudgingly lest the Lord be angry and our 9/10ths be cursed? Do we really believe God is honored when we give out of fear of what He will do to us if we don’t give? Oh beloved, our very lives and souls have been saved from a fate worse than famine. Let us be the servants of God, acknowledging in the liberality of our giving that all we have indeed is His.