Like a Sip of Cold Lemonade on a Hot Day

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)

The idea of being generous in the world’s eyes is not synonymous with being prosperous. If you are always giving, how can you ever store up wealth for yourself? As contradictory as this idea may seem, it proves true when you approach it from a spiritual standpoint.

Solomon explains in Proverbs 11:25 that the generous person – the one who does not cling tightly to all he or she has, who willingly shares with others and who makes an effort to give to anyone in need – will themselves find great blessing. Sometimes this blessing can come in the form of a return act of kindness from the person to whom we have given. But, even when we aren’t repaid materially, we always receive satisfaction and joy, as Proverbs 11:25 says.

What do you think of when you hear the word refreshment? My first thought is a cold sip of lemonade on a hot summer day. When you are sweating and your mouth is dry, the coldness of the lemonade brings refreshment to your body. The sweetness and the tartness combine to make you smile and you are refreshed – brought back to a healthy, hydrated state.

People in need are like that state of thirst, before the lemonade has quenched it. There are many ways people can be in need – materially, emotionally and spiritually – which means generosity can be given in all those ways as well.

How generous are you? Is there someone you know today that you can help by providing a material need? Is there a lonely person you know who would enjoy some company? Is there someone close to you upon whom you need to lavish compassion and grace? There are so many ways we can be generous, and when we are we can be that cold sip of lemonade to someone’s dry desert.

Proverbs 3:27-28 exhorts, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.'”

Pray for ways you can be more generous with your possessions, time and emotions. When God answers, do not delay. Refresh others, and in turn, you will find refreshment, too!

 

The PDF below is a card that can help you organize ways you would like to be more generous. Print it on 4.5″ x 6.5″cardstock, and then fold it as a trifold. When it is open it can stand up, and when it is closed, it is in the shape of a small bookmark that you can slip into your Bible.

generosity-trifold

Try the Triple Wash

“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’”?

Proverbs 20:9 (ESV)

Doing laundry is usually fairly routine – I put the clothes in the washer and then into the dryer, and finally fold or hang them up and put them back in their rightful place in the closet… unless, of course, something runs through the washer and dryer that wasn’t supposed to, like a crayon. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I had sent one of my daughter’s red crayons, apparently hidden in the pocket of some jeans, through the dryer, along with a full load of clothes. Everything, including the inside of the dryer was streaked with red wax. After much effort searching the Internet, I found a cleaning process that removed every stain; it took multiple cleaning agents in three washings, but it worked. The clothes were restored to pristine clean.

Proverbs 20:9 reminds us that keeping our hearts pure is a lifelong process. We must be proactive in rooting out negative attitudes, because every attitude that resides in our hearts will eventually come out in our actions and speech. Take an inventory of your own heart attitudes through prayer and begin to live out 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” When you have a specific attitude you want to grow in your life (such as patience, joy, forgiveness, etc.) search God’s word and find three verses about that attitude that will help you cultivate it. The Change My Heart Attitude Card below is a handy way to record the verses you choose and carry them with you anywhere.

The melted-in crayon marks on my daughter’s clothes are like the negative attitudes that can become grafted into our hearts and create strongholds over us. These attitudes may take the form of pride, jealousy, hate, anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness – all of which are sin in God’s eyes. Once we become convicted of these attitudes, we may think that it is impossible to remove them. But, the task is not hopeless! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome our negative attitudes.

Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” So, just like the crayon-stained clothes, our hearts can be triple washed with prayer, confession and praise to the one who made us and loves us. When we pray for discernment (Lord, what do I need to change in my life?), confess the sin that we recognize in our lives (Lord, I’m sorry for doing…, please forgive me and help me to not do that again.) and praise God for his mercy and grace (Lord, thank you for forgiving me and helping me overcome…), our negative attitudes will eventually disappear, just like those tough crayon stains did from the clothes.

change-my-heart-attitude-card

The Love of Money

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)

How do you feel about money? Do you seek it out, worry about it, dream about it, find yourself willing to do anything for it?  If money is an object that you are consumed with thinking about and that you desperately seek, then it is an idol in your life and will likely lead you down a path of dishonest practices, or at the very least one that brings little satisfaction.

When it comes to honesty and money, how do you rank on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being extremely dishonest with money, and 10 being extremely honest with it? To help you answer this question, consider how you filed your past tax returns, how you tithe, or what you’ve done if you ended up with money you found or received in error (did you return it?).

Dishonest business practices always have their origin in the desire for money. To avoid any dishonest practices with money, it is important to have a godly view of it. There are 2,000 verses on this topic in the Bible, and about half of the parables address money issues. Assess your beliefs on money with the “What do I believe about money?” worksheet below and realize that understanding God’s view of money is crucial to finding freedom in this area.

what-do-i-believe-about-money

A Just Weight?

“Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good.”

Proverbs 20:23 (ESV)

When Solomon wrote this proverb, he was referring to the fraudulent business practices that occurred in the market place during his day. The cost of an item, such as grain, was based upon its weight, so the use of a scale was necessary. Merchants kept a set of weights, often made of metal or semiprecious stones, that designated different measurements. The value of the weights was often inscribed on their bases, and the weights were sometimes shaped like animals such as ducks, lions or turtles, in order to help distinguish their values. This system of measurement was rife with misuse because sellers could physically alter the weights to make them heavier or lighter, whichever would allow them to get the better end of the deal on the scale.

Several times throughout the Bible, the Lord makes it clear that he detests dishonesty, both in our actions and in our words. Proverbs 20:23 explains that the Lord finds dishonesty an abomination. That’s a strong word for hate! Unfortunately, this idea of dishonest weights continues in our culture today: you read about the exorbitant prices being charged for necessary medical items like EpiPens. You see it on the news when cases of embezzlement are exposed. You experience it when your phone rings and the person on the other end of the line tries to entice you into a telemarketing scam.

While we all may not struggle with being dishonest in our business practices, there is a form of personal dishonesty that many of us fall victim to: self-deception. Being dishonest with ourselves is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons. The Lord detests dishonesty and Satan succeeds in separating us from the Lord when he encourages us to believe the lies he tells.

So, how can we be sure we are being honest with ourselves? By making sure our own “scale and weights system” is accurate. Our reference weight should be the Bible. When we place our thoughts, speech or actions on one side of the scale, they should always be measured against God’s word on the other. There is no other weight that can be laid on the scale opposite our actions and still provide an accurate reading. We fall into self-deception when we begin using weights with our own faulty reasoning inscribed upon them, weights such as: I am just wired that way. I can’t change. It’s his/her fault. I deserve this.

What weights do you use to justify your actions or lack of action? Are they made by your own hand or are they based on the absolute, unchanging word of God? Clean out your bag of self-made weights today, and remember “Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD.” Proverbs 16:11 (NIV).