Selflessness Leads to Blessings

Yael Eckstein  |  September 30, 2022

elderly woman sit with Yael Eckstein holding meal kit

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
    but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
—Proverbs 28:27

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

Our children are growing up in what has been dubbed “the selfie generation.” Most photos that kids take these days are of themselves. Personally, I take plenty of selfies with the intention of sharing my life in the Holy Land with people of faith around the world. However, as many sociologists have noticed, the word “selfie” has taken on a meaning that goes far beyond the object of the camera lens.

The selfie culture turns people’s focus onto themselves — how they look, how many “likes” they get on social media, what kind of clothing they wear, how much fun they have, and so on. What started out as a harmless, fun activity has now been linked to growing rates of depression — and certainly an increase of narcissism.

And here’s the irony, narcissistic behavior does not lead anyone to greater happiness. As many studies have shown, focus on the self leads to depression and a sense of emptiness. So it makes sense that one of the most effective ways out of depression is by teaching people to help others.

Selflessness Leads to Blessings

We see this lesson in Proverbs. We read, “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”

This verse seems ironic. How can I lack nothing by giving away what I have? The answer is twofold. First, as we noted above, selfishness leads to a sense of emptiness, of something missing from life. We don’t have fuller lives when we are focused on ourselves. We lack the most basic human need, namely meaningful connections to other people, that results from expressing genuine concern for their needs.

The second answer is God. Throughout the Bible, God promises us that when we care for the poor, He will reward us. Selflessness leads to blessings. I have never yet heard of a case of someone who regretted giving too much help to the poor and needy.

As our verse says, turning a blind eye to the needy does not bring blessing to our lives. It leaves us empty. But when we give to the poor, we are blessed both by the relationships and meaning we have fostered, and by God’s promises to reward us.

As God promises us in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you.”

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