Summary: Part 19 of the Sermon Series, "Rich Man Poor Man in Proverbs"
"Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse" (Prov. 28:27).
The antithetical saying in Proverbs 28:27 contrasts between giving and not giving to the poor. In the following chiastic structure, we can compare the two sub-statements:
A Whoever gives to the poor
B will not want
B1 will get many a curse
A1 He who hides his eyes
The sage contrasts between the giver of the poor in Line A and the one hiding his eyes in Line A1. The lack of “want” of the giver in Line B parallels the load of “curses” of the one who hides his eyes in Line B1.
The saying uses a blessing-curse antithetical formula. There is the blessing of provision for the giver to the poor. On the other hand, there is the curse for the greedy.
We note two principles here. First, give to the poor and you will not become poor. Second, however, hide your eyes from the poor and you will receive many curses. The writer paints an amazing paradox—he who gives more to the poor shall have more. However, he who keeps more from the poor shall receive more curses.
Hiding one’s eyes is the opposite of giving to the poor. To hide one’s eyes is not to give to the poor. To give to the poor is to be generous. To hide your eyes to the poor is to be greedy. To give to the poor is to be selfless. To hide your eyes to the poor is to be selfish.
In a study on charitable giving in August 2013 conducted by Blackbaud, Inc. and reported in Forbes, the largest contributors are the Boomers (aged 49-67). They gave “an estimated total of $61.9 billion per year (43% of all the dollars donated). Matures [68 or older] accounted for 26% of the donations; Gen X [33 to 48], 20%; and Gen Y [18 to 32] 11%.86
I wonder why young people do not give as much of their income to the poor. It may be because they are poor themselves, jobless, or relying on their parents’ support. Perhaps, their selfishness consumes them.
There is another interesting fact of charitable giving by the rich and the poor. In an article in April 2013, Kate Rogers writes that, “in 2011, Americans with earnings in the top 20% of income levels contributed, on average, 1.3% of their income to charity.” However, those in the bottom 20% of income levels gave 3.2% of their income to charity. The lowest income people gave more than double of what the highest income people gave to charity.87
Why do the poor give more to the poor than the rich do? Perhaps, because they know what it means to be poor. They face the poor at ground zero, relating with them more often than the rich. The rich, on the other hand, tend to be detached from the poor, making them less sensitive to the needs of the poor.
Mother Teresa, the missionary to the poorest of the poor, was traveling to New Guinea. A Franciscan monk asked Mother Teresa. “If I pay my own fare to New Guinea, can I sit next to you on the plane so I can talk to you and learn from you?”
Mother Teresa looked at him. “You have enough money to pay airfare to New Guinea?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied eagerly.