“One Who Scatters” (Proverbs 11:24-26)

It can be our natural instinct to save and accumulate. We may be afraid prices will inflate as we near retirement so we hoard excessive amounts of money in savings accounts and investments. We are fearful the cost of meat will increase so we stock our freezers with frozen goods. We are unsure whether next year’s crop will be as productive so we can our garden vegetables until there is nowhere in the pantry shelf to put a Mason jar. We pack our closets full of clothes and shoes just in case we need an outfit in that color or style. It seems natural to keep some things for ourselves, just in case.

However, it also can be a sinful instinct to hoard. In time of pandemic some buy out all the sanitizer and toilet paper just to sell it at a higher price later during a shortage. In time of famine some keep their meat and vegetables to themselves until people become so hungry they will give away nearly anything for some food. Some purposefully take advantage of the desperation of others under the guise of being wise capitalists. These methods may seem savvy in man’s view of economy. Yet, God’s economy works differently. The author of Proverbs does not commend the hoarder, but the giver.

“There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself. 26 The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it” (Proverbs 11:24-26, NKJV).

The book of Proverbs is filled with general truths. From God’s perspective, the one who is willing to “scatter” rather than “withhold more than is right” is the one who “increases more” (11:24). The one who is “generous” and “waters” will not go broke, but “be made rich” and “be watered himself” (11:25). The one who “sells” at a modest profit will be more “blessed” than the one who “withholds it” out of greed and selfishness (11:26). This way of thinking is contrary to the advice of a typical economist.

This passage is not condemning wisdom in saving or investing. After all, other Proverbs speak of the importance of such wisdom (Proverbs 6:6-8; 13:16; 21:20; 30:24-25). The “ant” is commended in summer for its foresight of winter. Yet, this proverb is condemning the one who foolishly thinks his prosperity is only for himself. God wants us to use some of our seed to “scatter” and some of the rainwater to “water.” In God’s economy the “generous soul” is the godly soul for giving is one of the beautiful attributes of God. Furthermore, the one who gives is the one who, paradoxically, gains as a result.

Please think honestly for a moment about your willingness to share. Are you known more for what you keep and spend on self or do others recognize and define you by what you give? Are the seeds of generosity still laying stagnant in the bottom of the seed bag or are you willingly dispersing them as “one who scatters?”