Proverbs 19:17 (ESV) “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

This sounds like a formula to get God to give you something if you are generous to a poor person. That is a presumptuous way to read and understand this general truth. Nevertheless, there is something amazing about this proverb if you have a right understanding of the things you call “mine!”

If your theology is correct, God already owns everything (Psalm 24:1-2; Job 41:11), and you are the temporary steward or trustee of what He has put in your possession. He is still the property owner. As a result, you do not own what you own. It only looks that way from a horizontal perspective. If you own land, your neighbor doesn’t own it. But ultimately God owns both properties.

God also sees not only each act, but He knows thoughts and the motivation of the heart. If we read Proverbs 19:17 and selfishly say “I will be generous so that God will bless me with more stuff” we miss the real blessing. If we are motivated by compassion to be generous and cheerful in helping the poor, God not only sees the act and the motivation, but He is able to repay you in ways you might not even begin to imagine. It would be seriously wrong for me to be generous with $1,000 and think that I will be blessed in a similar way by God. Sometimes He might do that, but more often than not His gifts and “repayments” are far better than the mundane things that don’t last.

John Piper has some wise insights into this Proverb as well. Go to the link below to read what he said.