Toddlers are social terrorists. They understand, "Mine!" and quickly react selfishly toward anyone who threatens their possessions.
Selfishness is a part of the sin-DNA download from Adam and Eve; it must be dealt with at the cross of Jesus Christ. Sharing, however, is a training issue, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). Sadly, many toddlers never receive that training, and they grow into stingy adults.
The wisdom writer addresses social terrorism and stinginess in adults, "When you sit down with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you; and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food . . . . Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. 'Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you" (23:1-2, 6-7). The stingy man cannot relinquish his ownership and sees even what his guests consume as "Mine."
Possessions often possess the hearts of those whose hands clutch them. When Jesus told the parable of the man who built more barns, He warned that the man's possessions were coming to possess him. He challenged His hearers by reminding them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Lk. 12:15). When possessions possess the person, they build a stronghold of stinginess around the heart. And strongholds are difficult to break.
Generosity counteracts stinginess. Generosity, like sharing for a child, is a training issue. It begins with taking stingy thoughts captive and exchanging them with generous thoughts. God promises, "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Prov. 11:25). God's Word offers the antidote to stinginess.
What do the proverbs reveal about God and those who take advantage of others?
What do the proverbs reveal about the heart and sorrow?
What do the proverbs teach about the failure of the wise and the failure of the foolish?
What do the proverbs reveal about making false accusations ad impartial judgments and how they undermine community?
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