Studies in Contrasts

I’ve been studying Proverbs 11; most verses are contrasts, but in v24, I ran across a contrast; each part was also a contrast:

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

The first part of the verse is talking about a giving person; “scatter” means to deliberately spread out, not to waste. But many sophisticated people would say that by giving away what one has to people who cannot pay back is the way to impoverish oneself. God’s rules, however, are different: He declares that such an action (in contrast to popular thought) leads to increase. This increase comes by God working in one’s circumstances; maybe something will last unexpectedly long; perhaps a business will grow beyond dreams; perhaps investments will make a better than expected return; perhaps a bonus at work, or an unexpected raise: God is just as much present in the business world as He is at church – if the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord (Pro 21:1), how much more the CEO and the board of directors and one’s own management?

In the second part of the verse, we have a contrast with first part: note a giver, but a hoarder.  This person withholds more that is meet (appropriate) – presumably to increase his own wealth. Instead, such a one finds that it tends to poverty.  It is amazing that people continue to do this kind of thing over and over, just to discover over and over that God’s word is true.  Note that it “tends” to poverty — some few may acquire riches by this method, but this won’t be the usual outcome.

Finally, note the important phrase “more than is meet”: we ARE to meet our own needs, including those of our family. We are never called to impoverish ourselves to meet another’s needs. If the truth were known, however, most people are living at a level well beyond that of  merely meeting needs.

So, there you have it – a verse with two main contrasting ideas, each one itself containing a contrast!


About Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.
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