Thursday, October 21, 2010

Givers and Graspers

“Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is friend to him who gives gifts. All the brothers of a poor man hate him; How much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.”
Proverbs 19:6,7

Friendship is a precious commodity. Unfortunately we seldom give sufficient attention to those things which make friendships grow and blossom. The text before us today devotes this attention. And, with Solomon’s characteristic pith, he packs a mouthful into very short space.

The text contrasts two types of men—the one who is generous and the one who is grasping. The former is a man of many friends; the latter of many enemies—indeed even his brothers turn against him. We, of course, would prefer to have some friends as opposed to none and so let us consider this passage for a moment.

Who is this generous man? We are told that he is one who “gives gifts” and one from whom people “seek favors.” We are accustomed to think of these gifts in purely monetary terms. However, the text embraces no such limitation. The generous man is just that—generous, open-handed. He gives of himself; he gives of his time; he gives of his resources. In sum, he sacrifices his own desires to bless others. Consequently, he has many friends. When his co-worker asks him for help, he agrees. When his children ask him to read to them, he reads. If you are a generous child, you do chores for your brother or sister, you ask your mom or dad how you can help them around the house, you clean your room without being asked. The generous man gives—he is always looking for those in need not thinking how much he needs himself. And isn’t this truly the secret of friendship—to be a friend to others rather than to expect that others will be a friend to you?

Now contrast the generous man with the grasping man. “All the brothers of a poor man hate him; how much more do his friends abandon him.” Because Solomon is contrasting this poor man with a generous man, it is highly unlikely that Solomon is thinking solely of a man who is poor monetarily. Rather he is describing one whose poverty taints all his relationships. Th type of poor man Solomon describes is a grasper; he always wants more, always needs more. He is like a leech, never satisfied, ever consuming. He never seems to have enough. He is a bottomless pit. You can give him your fortune; he will still be poor. You can give him your time; he will demand more. You can do him a favor; he will expect another. Whereas the motto of the generous man is “My life for yours,” the motto of the grasping man is, “Your life for mine.” And so husbands and wives make demands of one another and grow embittered because their spouse just isn’t meeting their needs; girls demand that their friends spend more time with them or they won’t speak to them anymore; fathers neglect their families in order to have “time away” by themselves; children refuse to say “thank you” for their dinner. And all these actions, all these actions of the grasping man, estrange friends.

And so let me ask some questions. Do you wonder why your children seem distant? Wonder why your husband doesn’t want to talk as much? Wonder why your siblings can’t seem to get along with you? Wonder why you don’t have any friends? Let me suggest that the reason these things are happening is because you are grasping not giving. Covenant today to turn from your grasping self-centeredness and to become a generous man like our Lord Jesus Christ. The first part of this covenant is confessing to the Lord that we have been graspers. So let us kneel and let us confess our sin to the Lord.