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Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. >Proverbs 3:27
During a recent ice storm, I posted on Facebook a photo of the ice-covered branches outside our window. Among the comments was one from a neighbor: “Liz, do you have power at your house? We don’t.”
My heart went out to them. But did my hand reach out to them? No, this girl stayed home, stayed warm, and prayed for them. Of course, I came up with all kinds of reasons—okay, excuses—not to act.
• Their power will come on any minute now.
• Surely they have whatever they need.
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• I don’t want to be a nuisance.
• Our driveway is solid ice.
• I’d feel foolish knocking on their door.
• What would I take? Blankets? Hot chocolate?
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As usual, I missed the point. The act of charity, the loving gesture, was what mattered. Not the gift itself, but the giving. God gently but firmly showed me the error of my thinking. If you want to be closer to Me, Liz, then you need to give like Me.
This is why we study God’s Word. Not just to understand it, not just to meditate on it. God wants us to do it. He calls us to act. And He gives us the power to do so.
Most of us would rather not be called a do-gooder—a person who tries to help those in need yet does so in a way that’s naive, annoying, useless, even prideful. But we all want to do good. This verse shows us the difference between doing a good thing and doing a God thing.
Do not withhold good . . . Proverbs 3:27
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I sure wish this translation put a more positive spin on things, like “Do everything you possibly can” (ERV) or simply “Do good” (EXB). That’s what the original Hebrew gives us—a single word, towb, which means “beautiful, pleasant, good, agreeable.”
Yet most versions urge us, “Don’t hold back good” (NIRV) and “Never walk away” (MSG). That’s because our flawed human nature prods us to keep rather than give, hoard rather than share, and withhold rather than extend. Whether it’s money, time, or the place we call home, we guard them as if they’re ours instead of blessings from God, entrusted to us so we can care for others.
It’s not that we’re selfish or greedy or controlling. Oh no. We just want to make sure people have earned the right to whatever we give them.
. . . from those to whom it is due, . . . Proverbs 3:27
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Due? Sounds like these people not only “deserve it” (NLT), but they’re also “entitled to it” (CJB). Why? Because they “need help” (EXB), and we’re meant to provide it by the Lord’s design.
God considers us worthy so we can consider others worthy.
God blesses us so we can bless those around us.
There’s nothing here about requiring those in need to prove it, take a number, fill out this form, or stand in this line. God’s Word says just the opposite. Don’t hold back. Share. Do good. Be generous. Give with joy, because “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
The verse that follows this one in Proverbs makes it clear God is talking about giving something tangible, something material: “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’—when you already have it with you,” (Proverbs 3:28) when “the money’s right there in your pocket” (MSG).
Open your hand. Hold it out. Help.
. . . when it is in your power . . . Proverbs 3:27
This isn’t Jim Carrey strutting around the set of Bruce Almighty, lip synching to “I’ve Got the Power.” This is you, filled with the Holy Spirit, quietly, humbly serving God by giving to others “whenever you possibly can” (GNT).
Wrapped inside the original Hebrew phrase is the word el for “God,” and yad, meaning “hand.” God puts the power in our hands, saying, “Go. Give.” The power comes from on high, and so does the provision.
We may sing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,”3 but it’s more than that, dear friend. We’re His hands to the world. As The Message puts it, “Your hand is God’s hand for that person.”
When is it in your power? Right now.
. . . to act. Proverbs 3:27
That’s right. Just “do it” (ASV). Reach out your hand. Since “it is within your power” (VOICE), then by all means “help” (NET). The Hebrew here is an active verb, telling us to “accomplish, do, make.” Not merely think about, but act upon.
We must give, or we risk losing all the joy of having. By the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, He teaches us to say no to clutching our money with both hands and say yes to sharing our time, our money, our energy, our prayers, and our hearts with those in need.
As Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
help me not give up,
become weary, or opt out.
Instead, teach me
to give generously,
to give joyfully,
to give continually.
Everything that’s ours
is Yours, Lord.
Please remind me of that.
One Minute, One Step
Doing good means letting go.
Look around and select an item you enjoy yet think might be helpful to another person. Something you are willing to give away. Even better, something you’re not eager to part with. Put this item in your car to deliver to the nearest charity shop or donation center. If you’re away from home just now, write down a possession you can load in your car the next time you walk through the door.
Excerpted from 31 PROVERBS TO LIGHT YOUR PATH. Copyright © 2017 by Liz Curtis Higgs. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Liz Curtis Higgs has one goal: to help women embrace the grace of God with joy and abandon. Her messages are biblical, encouraging, down-to-earth, and profoundly funny, helping sisters and seekers experience the depth of God’s love.She’s the author of more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print. Her most recent books are The Women of Easter, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, and 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path, from which the above excerpt was taken. Visit her at www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.