A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)
There is a sad caricature of a stream of Christianity that holds to the 'Health and Wealth' or 'Prosperity' gospel. This is the favored ground of many North American TV evangelists, with their perfect smiles, Italian suits and millionaire lifestyles. Their excess is the easy target of the wider community who see their brand of faith as a sad and grotesque parody of the movement founded by a peasant Rabbi who had no home to call his own. This distortion of the gospel is dangerous and damaging. The assertion that God provides some sort of celestial ATM machine where we can withdraw all we need (greed?) is a soul-destroying heresy. When the blessing does not flow as we expect, crises of faith are inevitable. What happens to the person promised material blessing from God by a Pastor if they tithe, and even give above their tithe, when that blessing does not flow; or worse, of financial hardship is their experience?
But I am challenged by proverbs like this and others (11:24) that imply at the least that the one who gives will gain even more. I can (and have) readily interpreted this as the intangible blessings that come with acting out of a generous heart. But the scriptures at the very last leave room for the tangible rewards that also may flow from such action. What am I to do with this tension? All I can do is live with it. More than that, I can (and will) ask that God will grow in me a cheerful, sacrificial and generous heart - a heart that reflects in a small but significant way the heart of God.