On the one hand:
“Everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” (21:5b)
“He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” (21:17)
“The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work.” (21:25)
On the other hand:
“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” (21:13)
“The righteous gives and does not hold back.” (21:26b)
“He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.” (22:9)
I see a back and forth taking place. While the author of Proverbs offers warnings for things which cause poverty, he challenges the one with wealth to be generous in all things.
Sometimes the needs around us are so major, it’s hard to know where to give or with whom to be generous. What convicted me, today, was a little reminder that I am to be generous and not judgy about who deserves help and who brought on their own poverty.
I think a simple rule of thumb is to give whenever you can, and try not to be paralyzed by all the need. Who is the LORD specifically putting in your path? How can you be creatively generous?
Sometimes Americans get a bad rap. We can be accused of being loud and opinionated (even whilst admittedly uneducated). We are easily swept up in consumerism. We tend to be proud. However, on more than one occasion, I have been able to explain to my international friends how generous Americans are.
Sure, we have a crushing healthcare system that we don’t know how to fix, but meanwhile, we jump on gofundme campaigns in a heartbeat. This is mind boggling to some. In one country, a friend noted that people are generous, but never with cash. They will share their food, but not their change. It is amazing to me how we help one another. Sometimes we are easily scammed by skeezy charities, but how lovely that generosity is such a strength it can also be a weakness.
The LORD certainly blesses generosity. Please take this as both an encouragement toward continued generosity and warnings against what might ultimately make you poor (ie. being lazy, self-indulgent, etc.) In any case, it is not our job to judge, it is our job to give.