Scattering and Withholding
1. These next verses all speak of a familiar theme in the Scriptures:
• You reap what you sow.
• Sow sparingly, and reap sparingly! Sow generously and reap generously.
2. This passage speaks of a principle or truth which at first glance seems contradictory… it seems impossible…
• It demands further investigation… further thought… meditation.
• It might be classified as an oxymoron (a wise saying that seems foolish)—it at first appears to be foolish.
• But upon further contemplation is found to be quite wise.
THE PRINCIPLE IS FOUND IN VS. 24-26
1. Solomon speaks of a situation where one scatters what he has, and yet increases what he has.
a. At first glance this seems foolish. (This was written by Solomon, not Yogi Berra)
• Normally, when you scatter what you have, you end up with less. You don’t increase.
• What Solomon writes seems to run contrary to all known laws of mathematics… contrary to common sense…
• When you subtract, you don’t end up with MORE. (I’m no math major, but even I know that!)
b. However, there are situations where one who scatters DOES increase.
• Remember that Proverbs are truths crystallized into a tiny nugget. They do not hold true for every possible situation.
• The principle Solomon describes is true with scattering seeds. (…As opposed to keeping them in a bag.)
• It is true with investments. (…As opposed to withholding them under your mattress.)
• So there ARE situations where what Solomon says is true.
a. The term means to disperse (scatter!) ; spread out; spread abroad;
b. It is translated either scatter or disperse. (Usually used of Israel being scattered among the nations)
c. The term is used in the same sense that Solomon uses in Ps. 112:9 where it speaks here of dispersing money or goods or charity to the poor.
a. Increase: add; gain; increase; join;
b. This is the point of the oxymoron… one who scatters gains; increases…
c. This kind of scattering doesn’t subtract, but adds to what he has.
4. Psa. 112:9 – The psalmist describes the one who disperses his money to the poor…
a. What is the result of his scattering his goods to the poor? Does he end up with less?
b. His righteousness endures… it does not decrease. It increases! His righteousness doesn’t run dry, it endures!
c. His “horn” (symbol of strength; power) doesn’t run dry either. It is exalted.
• By giving to the poor, this man does not become weaker, but stronger.
• His bank account may become weaker, but HE becomes stronger as a person.
• The owner of a company who treats his employees fairly and scatters his earnings to them… might discover that his company becomes stronger for it, not weaker!
• His employee loyalty increases. He keeps better workers. (Good workers want to work for him.) The morale is up. The zeal to do well increases… all because the owner scattered his wealth to them.
• Over time, this may well increase his bottom line too.
• Just as Solomon said; there are times when scattering results in increase… as crazy and nonsensical as it may sound at first!
5. This same truth is repeated in different form in vs. 25a: The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
a. The liberal soul (not talking about Ted Kennedy and his crowd).
• It is GOOD to be liberal in this sense. (Not theologically however!)
b. Liberal: blessing or prosperity…
• It speaks of one who dispenses blessings or prosperity and goods to others.
• He is liberal in his giving—not his politics or theology.
• The liberal soul could be translated “the generous man.”
• The English term is used of God as a liberal… a liberal giver. (James 1:5 – He giveth liberally and upbraideth not)
• II Cor. 9:13 speaks of their liberal giving to the saints in Jerusalem. (liberal here = free; open)
c. The liberal soul is one who gives generously.
• He “scatters” what he has among those who have need.
• He is generous in giving to the Lord’s work… and the poor…
• He uses his wealth wisely and generously… he is a true liberal.
d. This man shall be made fat.
• In our culture, this probably seems like a punishment… in reality it is a blessing.
• But in Bible times, fatness was a sign of prosperity… of doing well… well provided for.
• Times change.
» In ancient times—and in the golden era of the British Empire, it was considered chic NOT to have a tan.
» The British aristocrats prided themselves in their ghoulish white skin. The ladies wore parasols when they went in the sun… to keep their skin lily white.
» Only the lower class—those who had to work in the sun had tans. The upper class did not.
» Today, it is chic to have a tan; in fact, we have tanning parlors on every block!
» Today we have gyms and weight clinics on every corner.
» Back then fat and fair were in. Now dark and lean are in. What fickle people we are!
• In ancient times, fat was considered to be a good thing. Being skinny meant you were probably poor… Fatness was a sign that you had made it!
• So when God says that the liberal soul shall be made fat, He means that His BLESSING is upon the liberal soul.
• He will not starve. God will take good care of him. “Let thy soul delight itself in fatness.” (Isa. 55:2)
e. Vs. 25b – The same thought repeated once again: he that watereth shall be watered himself.
• Water was an exceptionally important commodity in those days before running water… in that dry region.
• The man who is generous with his water to others would be reciprocated.
• The man who scatters his water does not end up with less, but with MORE!
• If he shared his water with several neighbors when their wells ran dry…he ends up with access to MANY wells down the road, not just his own.
• His well could run dry one day too… and his neighbors would remember his generosity. (They would also remember a stingy neighbor too).
6. This same principle is found in yet another illustration in vs. 26b.
a. “Blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth.”
• Solomon is speaking of a farmer who sells grain… perhaps a very wealthy landowner who controls the market on grain.
• If he withholds it, (and thus drives up the price) the people will curse him… because he is taking advantage of them.
• But the one who sells it… (fair market value)… will be blessed.
• The one who sells his corn or grain is like the man who scatters what he has…
b. The man who is willing to scatter his grain in order to feed the hungry will be blessed.
• This man is not actually “giving” it away, but selling it.
• But by selling it, he is doing the people a favor. Otherwise, they go hungry.
• In those days, in an agrarian culture, so much depended upon the weather. The whole economy depended upon the crops.
• A powerful, wealthy landowner would always have enough for himself, even in a time of famine.
• But in those rough years, the price of grain might go up 10 fold! If the famine was bad enough, the farmer might keep it all to himself… not knowing when the famine will end.
• In fact, if the landowner had a corner on the market, he could even withhold corn in a good year to drive up the price…
• No wonder James decries the wealthy landowners of his day.
• James 5:1, 5 – they lived in pleasure and got fat by taking advantage of the poor.
• James says they were getting fat all right, but like an animal that is fattened up for the slaughter… God’s judgment upon them!
• The man who was considerate enough of other families to SELL his corn… at fair market value, was like the man who scattered his wealth… like the liberal or generous soul… like the man who watered others…
7. In all of these illustrations and examples, Solomon states that those who show mercy, compassion, generosity, kindness, consideration of those who are poor or are suffering, will be BLESSED.
a. They scatter what they have (be it money; kindness; corn; water; etc.)
b. And in the end, they are not losers, but gainers!
c. They scattered what they had, but ended up increasing… with MORE:
• More friends
• More joy
• Access to more wells when their well runs dry
• More dedicated employees
• More satisfaction from what remains
• More contentment out of life
• More of God’s blessing in your life (that’s what counts)
d. Those who scatter increase. They are never losers but winners. They don’t end up with less but with more…
e. In a word (or two!)—these proverbs mean: he who sows generously shall reap generously!
8. Be careful not to twist the meaning here.
a. The gospel of success folks do just that: twist this principle and apply it where it was never intended to be applied.
b. They say, “If you give generously of your wealth, God will increase your wealth.”
c. In other words, “Give more in order to get more.” That is entirely SELFISH. The motive is all wrong.
d. The whole point of the proverb is about being generous … giving to others, not thinking of yourself!
• The emphasis is on giving, not getting.
• The motive behind it is thinking of others, not self.
e. They likewise twist Proverbs 3:9.
• What is the emphasis here? HONOR God!
• It is equal to Matt. 6:33 – seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.
• We are never told to put God first SO THAT we will have food on the table and clothes to wear!
• We are never told to give SO THAT we will receive from God or others.
• Just the opposite. We are taught NOT to put self first, but God and others.
• And when we do, God will take care of our needs. God will bless. God will provide. He will fill our barns with what we need.
• The point is this: Seek God first; be generous to others; and trust God to take care of your needs… and He will.
• Being generous in order to receive is really a perversion of this principle.
• This gets right down to the MOTIVE behind our generosity and willingness to share.
• We may DO good deeds, but ruin the value of them in God’s sight by doing a right thing with a wrong motive.
f. In fact, if we give generously, our bankroll goes DOWN not up.
• We can’t expect to scatter wealth and increase wealth in this life.
• But in glory, we will find our riches ARE increased.
• We lose out on earthly treasures by scattering them.
• BUT—we INCREASE our heavenly treasures… and they are eternal!
• Don’t expect that if you give generously in this life, then God is required to increase your wealth in this life. We already HAVE all of our blessings as Christians! (Eph. 1:3)
• God may bless our generosity with physical, earthly blessings, but the Bible does not promise it. In fact, we are exhorted not to expect much from this world!
• But if we put others first, and are generous in this life with our present stewardship, then we can KNOW that God has heavenly riches awaiting us in glory!
• From eternity’s perspective, this principle is always true: If we scatter what God gives us in this life, we will be greatly increased in true riches at the Bema seat!
NEXT WEEK we will look at the other side of this principle: the one who withholds… and tends to poverty.
And there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.