Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 3:27
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it"
This is the Hebrew word mana which means to withhold, keep back, refrain, deny. Clearly Solomon is trying to help us understand that when we have the chance to benefit someone else, we should take that opportunity.
Unfortunately we are often too eager to only look for our own benefit. The wise person is the one who spreads benefit and blessing whenever they can. One of the basics principles of wisdom is looking to do good to others. This may mean a kind word, a note, an opened door, a listening ear, a helping hand. But when there is an opportunity to actually do something good for others, it is not missed.
This is the word tob which means good; the quick overarching idea is something that is of benefit to another person.
Solomon suggests that opportunities for benefiting others should not be missed. While this seems trivial, it makes all the difference in the world. People will see you as either a selfish person always thinking about yourself or a good person looking to benefit others and not just yourself. Living a wise life, which is Solomon's goal, requires that you develop the good-for-others focus.
What is interesting here is that one of the basic principles of wisdom is dealing with sins of omission. There is the constant danger of being solely focused on yourself and missing opportunities to really bless, help, and benefit others. This self-focused mentality is being trumpeted in our day as the way to get ahead, but Solomon warns that missing opportunities to bless and benefit others will come back to bite you.
We are also often protective of being taken advantage of that we miss many of these opportunities. In this idea you will freely allow yourself to be taken advantage of to help the other person. They will get the better end of the deal, but you will gain the emotional satisfaction of doing good and you will be pleasing to God.
I get concerned about the culture of schools, business, and government where it is seen as cool to put people down and gossip rather than do good to people. I am troubled by the fact that many kid’s cool factor goes up if they can put other kids down. It is not helpful when the office gossip is designed to find the flaws of the people in the office and broadcast them.
This is the Hebrew word baal which means owner, lord, ruler. In this case the translators used the words to whom it is due to make it clearer but unfortunately clouded the idea in the original that one should do good to one’s authorities. This is the last person who you want to benefit.
This proverb, properly understood, talks about a forgotten secret in our culture: the secret of honor, submission, and gratefulness above what is required. Our culture so values independence that we have made the rebel that hero. The rebel does not get ahead; the rebel takes the obstacle-filled path.
Solomon was trying to hold the faces of his young charges and let them know that when they have the chance to benefit their superiors, they should take that opportunity. It is the wise thing to do.
This is the Hebrew word hand which means hand. The idea is that if you have the ability to bless others, then take it – especially if it is your superior.
Too often we push our hand down back into our pockets rather than reach out with the help that is needed. We turn away the words that others need. We are so afraid of puffing them up that we hold back needed gratefulness and praise. Don't be like this. This week when you have the chance to say something nice to the people around you – especially your boss – then do it. When you have the chance to do something that would really benefit them, then take that chance.