Friday, February 11, 2005

Lending to the LORD

He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back what he has given. (Proverbs 19:17)
Did you know that you can actually lend to the LORD, and He will pay you back? That’s what this verse is saying. The word for “pity” means to be gracious, to show favor. Literally, it is to bend or to stoop down in kindness. Here again, the word for “poor” means “dangling,” and refers to someone who is very much in need.

The word for “lend” literally means to twine, or to unite. That is what borrowing and lending does, it creates a bond, even an obligation. The man who shows favor to the poor actually lends to the LORD, and that places the LORD in his debt. Oh, how that idea offends the religious spirit, but that is clearly what the Scripture implies. God allows Himself to be in our debt.

Now, the lender/debtor relationship that is implied here is not one of animosity. The lending and repaying are not done in a begrudging way. Rather, it is a delightful partnership that is being depicted. For why is showing favor to the poor understood as lending unto the LORD? Because God identifies His heart with the poor. They are of special concern to Him. The desire of His heart is to lift them up out of the ashes and bring them into His abundance. So, when we show favor to the poor, we are actually identifying with God’s heart, partnering with Him in His good pleasure. We have touched the heart of God, and there is great reward in that.

Our God is a God who repays. In Jeremiah 51:56, He is called Yahweh El Gemulah, the LORD God of Recompenses. Often in the Old Testament, the recompense is negative, i.e., God repaying the wicked for their wickedness. But His recompense also works very positively.

It’s a matter of sowing and reaping, and Yahweh is the Lord of the Harvest. We discover this principle in the New Testament:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:7-9)
So it is with our lending to the LORD. It is a seed we sow. And when we sow, we reap. If we sow well, we reap well. If we sow bountifully, we reap bountifully. If we sow sparingly, we reap sparingly.

What we give to God is a seed, what God gives to us is a harvest, and the harvest is always greater than the seed. What we sow is what we reap. Sow favor, and reap favor. Sow thorns, and you will not like your harvest.

God will “pay back.” The word used here means to reciprocate, to make complete. It is a restoration, a fulfillment. The circle is complete. But don’t stop there. Let the circle keep going by reaching out more and more to those who are in need of God’s kindness shown through you. When we show grace, He shows grace back to us. When we prosper the poor, God prospers us. God always repays, and He always repays BIG!