Recently I heard this story about a pig and a cow.
"Why is it," said the rich man to his minister, "that people call me stingy? Everyone knows that when I die, I'm leaving everything to the church."
"Let me tell you a fable about the pig and the cow," said the pastor. And he proceeded to tell this story.
The pig was unpopular, while the cow was beloved. This puzzled the pig. "People speak warmly of your gentle nature and your cuddly eyes," the pig said to the cow. "They think you're generous because each day you give them milk and cream. But what about me? I give them everything I have. I give bacon and ham. They even pickle my feet! Yet, not one likes me. Why is that?" asked the pig.
The cow said, "Perhaps it is because I give while I'm still living."
That little story reminded me of a biblical financial paradox that can be found in Proverbs 11:24-25
“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”
Is Solomon saying that the more we give the more we are blessed, and if we are generous we will prosper, and if we are stingy we will see poverty? In a word, yes. This is what he is saying. But we must understand this is God's economy and not Man's economy. Let's look a little deeper into this paradox.
Being generous not only provides for others but it also does a good job in getting our attention off ourselves. This leads to humility. Read the parable of the Wedding Feast (Luke 14:7-14) to follow the path of being generous leading to humility, leading to blessings, and ultimately resulting in rewards being received in eterinty. Luke 14:14.
When God knows that He can trust us to be a conduit to bless others with riches, we are already prospering simply knowing that God trusts us. This is an immediate blessing that we receive by being generous.
But the key to understanding this paradox is found in Luke 16:10-13. Jesus says if we are faithful stewards with our money, we will receive true spiritual blessings.
One of the basic principles of being a faithful steward in God's economy is being generous. Jesus is saying without generosity we will not receive true spiritual blessing. And without true spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1) we cannot become spiritually mature. Being generous is one of the traits of a Christian by reflecting the overwhelming generosity of Christ in giving up His life at Calvary.
If we look at the early church we discover the community around them recognized believers by their generosity.
Randy Alcorn said, "If Christ is not Lord over our money and possessions, then He is not our Lord." An easy way to see if He is Lord over our possessions is to look at our generosity.
The parable In Matthew 25 teaches that we are each given an allotment of talents (money, time, and abilities) and we are expected to develop those talents and then generously give back to the Master. Anything other than this is cursed!
Randy Alcorn goes on to say, "I have never seen a mature Christian who was also not a mature steward. Giving is a part of growing!"
So as we become more generous, God entrusts us with spiritual blessings, which are true riches. These spiritual riches may be realized in this life as spiritual maturity, or in eternity as indicated in Luke 14.
But the key to the paradox in Proverbs 11:24-25 as well as many of the other biblical financial paradoxes is to view God's economy with an eternal perspective. When we are generous with our money God will bless us with spiritual riches and thus as Proverbs 11:25 says, a generous man will prosper!
So the next time you look at a cow and wonder why she looks so loved in comparison to the unpopular pig, remember Proverbs 11:24-25. The path to prosperity in God's economy is through generosity.