“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
Proverbs 22:9 (ESV)
There’s Golden Eye, eagle eye, bright eyes, bird’s eye, and watchful eye to name a few “eye phrases,” but have you ever heard of a “bountiful” eye? The bountiful eye referred to in Proverbs 22:9 signifies generosity. Most translations of this verse use the term “generous person,” but I like the translation that refers to a bountiful eye because it gives us a vivid description of what enables us to be generous: we must use our eyes to look for needs around us.
My daughter Caroline uses her bountiful eye every time we are driving around town. She is constantly on the lookout for a homeless person to whom she can give a goody bag. A couple of years ago, we started putting together bags with bottled water, peanut butter crackers, socks, soap, a washcloth, and a note with an encouraging Bible verse, and we keep these bags in our car to hand out when we see someone who could use them. Any time Caroline sees someone and we are in a place where we can pull up next to them, she scrambles over the back seat, grabs a bag, scrambles back over the seat, rolls down the window, hands out the bag, and says, “God bless you!” This is often the highlight of her day.
I’m convicted that I do not do this more, and I’m thankful for Caroline’s example as a reminder that, many days, I need to slow down and look for those who are hurting, and then actually do something about it.
This idea of looking for those in need and acting on it is repeated throughout the Bible, and the rewards are clear:
Psalm 41:1 tells us the person who has regard for the weak will be blessed and the Lord will save him or her during times of trouble.
Psalm 112:9 tells us that generosity produces eternal righteousness and blesses us with dignity.
Deuteronomy 15:10 clarifies that generosity comes from a compassionate heart and that its reward is blessing over the things for which we work.
Of course, we shouldn’t be generous only for the rewards. Generosity must come from the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). If we actively look for ways we can help others, we will see the needs around us. But we shouldn’t stop there. We should also be prepared to help the people we see, and this requires sacrifice. The second half of Proverbs 22:9 makes it clear that generosity involves sacrifice, even sharing one’s own bread. In other words, it means giving away food that would have gone into our own belly.
If we don’t utilize a bountiful eye, the Lord warns us that there will be consequences, including poverty (Proverbs 28:27) and scarcity (2 Corinthians 9:6). Jesus commanded us to love others as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27), and this is the core of generosity. When we help those in need, it is as if we are lending to God as well, and the Lord will repay us for our generosity (Proverbs 19:17).
Give your bountiful eye a workout by looking around this week as you go about your daily business to see if there is someone you can help or encourage.