She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. – Proverbs 31:20 (ESV)
This last chapter of proverbs has been a source of discouragement for many women. The standard listed here as the “virtuous wife” is pretty high. Not everyone is a good negotiator or seamstress. No doubt some less-than-honorable men have pointed to this chapter and used it as a weapon. My goal with this chapter is not to highlight something else women must do, but to highlight a character trait everyone – male and female – can nurture and grown in their personal life; the trait of generosity.
Among all the various descriptions of the high standard of the “virtuous wife,” right here in the middle of this 11 verse section, is this verse about her extending her hand to the poor. This is an active step. Intentionally being generous and not walking by those in need.
Generosity is a quality all of us need. It makes no difference if we are rich or poor, male or female, old or young; a mature believer is a generous believer.
I am reminded of the story in Luke 21 where Jesus uses the example of the widow who contributed those 2 mites, which were small copper coins of very little worth, to the temple treasury. In His way of thinking, this widow gave more than anyone else. He taught how she gave not out of her abundance but out of her poverty and how her gift of those two small coins was a gift greater than anyone else’s. She was generous, even in her time of need.
Like that widow of Luke 21, the virtuous man or woman, is generous. Very intentional about extending out a hand or reaching out to those around us who are in need. The lesson for all of us is, how generous are we? I’m not asking about your giving – sometimes we can do this as a rote exercise without even thinking about doing it. Giving can become something that is relegated to a check box, something we do without any emotion or connection to the person (or organization we are supporting). But how intentional are we to meeting the need of another individual?
Obviously, giving to the church we attend and supporting various organizations we believe in is necessary and we need to continue to do so. But here in Proverbs 31, I see how important it is for us to extend our hand, to reach out to those around us and intentionally look for ways to help others. This is true no matter where we fall on the economic scale.
I have a friend that will often say, “You can’t do everything, but everyone can do something.” It is important that intentional generosity is part of our life. Everyone can do something.