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.
I have put two portions of Scripture below which I hope you will take the time to read. I have included a few brief comments on them.
We do not give based on whether or not it is a convenient time for us to give. We give even when it seems to be an inopportune time because it is well pleasing to God. He is always faithful to bless the life that gives.
What we possess has been given to us by God so that we might be a channel through which others are helped and blessed. Our giving brings honor and thanksgiving to God as the needs of others are met by God through us.
We miss out on so much if we stop giving.
Deuteronomy 15:7-10 If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.
But do not forget to do good and to share, for which such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16
2 Corinthians 9:10-12 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. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” Ephesians 4:28
Most people work to pay their bills and to acquire more stuff. This is the motivation to spend 40 hours (or more) at our workplace each week. And we work even harder so we can make more money so we can buy even more stuff. It’s the American way, right?
Maybe so, but it’s certainly not the way of Jesus. His teachings were full of words like “serve” and “give”. Sometimes as believers, we have to shake ourselves and realize that the American dream is in direct opposition to the Bible. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to acquire more goods for ourselves and hoard up possessions and money. On the contrary, Jesus told a story about a man who had to build a bigger place to store all his stuff – and Jesus called him a fool.
I do have bills that I need to pay. I do require certain necessities to survive. But I desire to be free from the mentality of excess that society flaunts before me. How can I justify the purchase of another pair of black shoes or another purse, when there are people who are in desperate need, not knowing where their next meal will come from? How could I justify the expense of a manicure when there are men and women on the mission field who have left everything to serve Christ and could be helped by that money?
Jesus said that there will always be poor people among us. This is just the nature of things in a fallen world. But should it be that the poor are among us because we are too greedy to share and give? Oh Lord, let it not be!
Oh, the freedom of a simple life that abounds in generosity to others. I want this life. To be free of the desire for stuff and more stuff, and to have a heart that delights in giving.
Not working to prosper; not working to accumulate wealth; but working to give. Seems to me, this would be a very blessed life.