God, turn away from us the greed of the ungodly. Give us the mercy of the righteous. Amen.
Text: Proverbs 11:23-25
The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath. There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.
God’s Word does not conceal from us the fact that whoever does good from a loving heart receives an abundant reward from the Lord, either for himself or in his posterity. But whoever gathers ill-gotten goods gathers distress and misery for his children. There is a law of nature: riches insure against poverty, and a large inheritance makes children rich. But behind this there is another, deeper law: God’s blessing makes one rich, and our deeds of love are the best heritage for our children and the most secure livelihood. What is the richest person’s fortune compared with the Lord’s ownership of land, air, or sea? No one is fed and nourished by his own money or his own stocks and bonds; they must be converted into provisions. No rich person owns as much as just one little country produces of crops and food for a single year. Rich people’s children who divide among themselves their parents’ fading little portion of earth’s passing things are surely poor compared to the children of mercy who have access to all God’s possessions and receive all that they need from His blessing. If you want to become rich, and if you want to make your children rich (but understand me rightly), if you want to have more than enough, whether by the world’s thinking you have more or less, and if you want to have abundance to share, then lend to the Lord. As truly as He lives, He shall pay you!
But God’s Word also says: “Do not let your left hand know what your right is doing” (Mat 6:3), and it tells about a widow who gave a penny that was more than the large gifts of the rich (Mar 12:42-43). Whoever gives richly in order to receive richly in return is not reaching out his hand to give, but to take. The heart makes the difference. The heart gives, and the heart holds back, and according to this the Word is true: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully … for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Co 9:6-7).
Lord, be gracious to us: make us into souls that bless and refresh and become like an early rain. Amen.
As a tree that has been planted
By the flowing waters fair,
In its season e’er is granted
Fruits and foliage to bear;
So is he, the righteous, seen
Ever fruitful, ever green,
And his leaf shall wither never,
All he does shall prosper ever.
To the wicked ’tis not given
Such a happy lot to share,
As the chaff by wind is driven
So shall the ungodly fare;
They in judgment shall not stand,
Nor be in the righteous band;
These the Lord forsaketh never,
Those shall be cast off forever.
Gerhardt: Blessed is the man that never L 501:2-3 ELH 457:2-3 tr. C. Døving;
tune: Werde munter