One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
Proverbs 11:24-26 NIV
Generosity is not just the luxury of the rich, but rather an attitude that understands that we are not defined by what we have, but who we are.
Solomon, who certainly found himself on the list of the rich and famous of his day, has a way with words in this chapter. From the onset of the chapter he speaks of honesty, humility and integrity as the virtues which describe a righteous person (v. 1-3). He reminds us that wealth and riches will not save anyone from days of trouble (v. 4) and that a nation will rejoice when the righteous prosper, for they will share and bless others from what they have received (v. 10-11). I can't help but wonder if Solomon isn't speaking from experience when he says, Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion (v. 22).
The New Testament reminds us of the same principle. Jesus praised the widow who gave proportionately more than anyone else in the temple court. Paul's comment on "God loves a generous giver" is embedded within a larger conversation of what does it mean to live a life that reflects the heart of God and reveals the filling of the Holy Spirit. James warns us of treating a wealthy stranger differently than someone with few resources, for what counts is the heart of the person.
All of these verses point to the same thing; we are not the sum total of what we own or possess. Our character and integrity not only matter to God, but they will affect the people around us and the influence that we have, either for the good or the bad. It's the difference between covetousness or contentment, which doesn't depend on our circumstances or balance in our chequing account. It's an attitude that understands that true riches are based on knowing God, loving others, and being able to live in peace.