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The righteous gives and does not hold back
Proverbs 21:26 A call for true charity as we enter the season of unbridled consumerism
“All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back.”
Proverbs 21:26 NASB1995
We’re in the month of November, which means that the onslaught of guilt-inducing advertisements to get you to buy, buy, buy is underway! Today’s verse is from Proverbs, and it’s always a good time to gain some wisdom from King Solomon.
Looking at the verse, your first question might be “Who is he?” that Solomon is referring to. The verse just prior to this gives us an answer: those who are capable of working and then using the fruits of their labor to help the poor and sick, but don’t. Solomon refers to those people as sluggards, and says that “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work.” (Proverbs 21:25).
We all know people who are incredibly lazy, but they don’t die from that bad trait. What Solomon seems to be saying here is that the life of unfulfilled desire for material things feels like death to the person who is unwilling to put in the effort. In the New Testament, Jesus encouraged the death of self (humility), but here the sluggard is simply feeling bad about himself because he covets what other, more industrious people have gained through their work.
Bible commentator Allan Ross said of the sluggard in Proverbs 21:25, “Living in a world of wishful thinking and not working will bring ruin…the verse teaches that doing rather than desiring brings success.”1
Moving on to today’s core verse, the explanation is that with the unfulfilled desire of the lazy man, he’s greedily looking at what he doesn’t have and is obsessed with it, but that desire remains unfulfilled because he’ll never lift a finger to work towards the goal.
On the other hand, it is implied that the righteous man works hard and gets so much in return that he is able to give to others unsparingly. Through his industriousness, he is blessed so much that he’s able to support himself, his family, and give generously to others.
Our readers are most likely in this latter category, righteous men and women who have worked hard for what they have. During this holiday season, remember to “not hold back” when it comes to giving — and give to those who are least able to help themselves because of no fault of their own.
I’ll end this devotional by pointing you to two groups that both make it easy for those of us who have to help lift others out of lives of poverty and despair.
Heifer International: A group that trains and equips farmers in the poorest areas of the world, encouraging those who successfully grow crops and raise livestock to then help others by passing along their skills, seed, and starter herds.
Samaritan’s Purse: An amazing organization that spreads the Gospel to children through Operation Christmas Child; offers medical assistance, shelter, and more in disasters around the world; helps veterans rebuild their lives, and provides surgeries to those in underserved areas.
There are other groups that are similar in focus; regardless of who you give to — or if your giving consists of volunteering to help the local poor, homeless, or hungry —“don’t hold back”.
Off-topic, but important: Barb included this in yesterday’s devotional, but it is important to repeat this here… We’ve been getting emails from a subscriber who takes exception to some of our theology. We’re not theologists; we simply study Scripture with a discerning eye, and then try our best to explain what we’ve studied with the help of a number of online Bible commentaries (these commentaries all lean toward Protestant teachings). If you have an issue with the way we explain something, please use Substack’s comment tool, leave a note that everyone can see, and give everyone an opportunity to agree or disagree with you. We will not respond to email criticism!
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear God, I thank You for giving me the lifelong capacity and desire to work hard. Remind me to not hoard those earthly treasures, but to share them unsparingly and without the need for recognition with those who need help the most. I pray that all of Your children think about helping the truly needy in the upcoming months as we celebrate the birth of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus. AMEN.
Ross, Allen P. "Proverbs: The Expositor's Bible Commentary" Volume 5 (Psalms-Song of Songs) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1991)