To capture a monkey, hunters just cut out a hole small enough for the monkey to get their hand in to get some food that has been used as bait. When the monkey reaches in and grabs the food, it clinches its fist and refuses to ever let go. Therefore it is trapped and easy prey for the hunter to snag. The irony is, all those monkeys had to do was open their hands up and freedom was theirs. But because they were unwilling to open their hand, and they held on with a closed fist, they lost their freedom forever.
Now, let’s read Proverbs 11:24, “One man gives freely yet gains even more. Another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” . . . Do you see it? One man is open-handed. The other man is close-fisted. One man is a giver. The other is a grasper. One man is thinking about others. The other man is looking just at himself.
Life is way too short to be selfish. Look at your hands. Let me ask you something today- Are you an open-handed person or are you closed-fisted? Open-handed? Closed-fisted? Which are you? Now if I ask you to answer that out loud many of you would say “I’m, open handed!” However, if I ask, how many of you gave generously this past week or even month towards a need that is for someone else and not yourself, there would be a lot less hands raised.
I don’t say that to make anyone feel guilty. I say that because talk is cheap and sometimes in order for us to change we need someone to shoot straight with us and give a reality check. This talk today is not so our group can prosper, this talk, I pray will help many of us make some much needed changes in your mind in regards to generosity so we can finally experience some of the things God wants us to experience.
CHARACTERISTICS OF OPEN-HANDED:
Let’s go back to that Bible verse. It says, “One man gives freely.” Stop right there. That gives you the very first mark of an open-handed person. And that is generosity. Open-handed people give freely. They are generous. They are generous with their time and they are willing to give of themselves to whatever. They are generous with their words- Kind words. They are generous with their possessions. They are generous with their finances. And where is this generosity directed? It’s directed at their family. It’s directed toward their friends. And it’s directed toward their church. They are generous people. They have an open hand. When God gives to them, they give back. It rolls right through them. They are open-handed. They give freely.
Well, that generosity leads to the second mark of an open-handed person and you see it again in the verse. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more.” In other words, they have an abundance. Generosity leads to abundance. You would naturally think that when we are giving things away on a regular ongoing basis that sooner or later we are going to run out. We are going to exhaust whatever supply we have. But that’s not how it works. In fact, those who are open-handed have discovered a powerful dynamic in the Bible. That they will never ever be able to out-give God.
“This man gives freely, yet (even in his giving) gains even more.” It continues to come back to him so that he always has an abundance; he always has what he needs because he is giving it away.
Once you begin to be generous, you will soon discover the mark, confidence. You become confident about your life. You have a very positive outlook. Why? Because you have a long established track record with God. You’ve learned to be a generous person. After a while, you begin to realize, “God, this is real. This really does work. I really can trust you. I really can be confident about tomorrow and the day after and the day after because you will always provide for me.” An open-handed person is looking to the God. He is generous and his generosity leads to abundance and that abundance gives way to confidence—a very confident outlook on life.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A CLOSE-FISTED PERSON
Alright, what about the close-fisted person? What are the marks of that individual? Let’s go back to the Bible again. You remember it says, “Another man (here’s the other guy) withholds unduly.” Stop right there. What is the first mark? It’s stinginess. A close-fisted person is cheap; a penny pincher; a hoarder. Their philosophy in life is, “Life’s too short, Get all you can.” They say, “Nobody’s touching my stuff. It’s my stuff and I’m not letting go.”
They are that way toward their family. They are that way toward their friends. They are that way even toward their church. They are stingy with what they have. They are stingy with their time. They are stingy with their words. They are stingy with their finances. It is the characteristic of their life because they have got this idea that, “If I can just get more and more and hang on to what I’ve got, I’m going to be okay. It’s going to be alright. Tomorrow’s going to be a better day.”
But watch this. When you close your fist, when we are characterized by being stingy, the second mark is lack.
Look at what the Bible says in this verse, “This man withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” In other words, there is a constant lack in his life. He’s the kind of individual that every time he takes a step forward, he takes two steps back. Then he takes another step forward, but he takes two more steps back.
This is kind of how it is. You get to a place where you think, “Wow, I finally got enough! This is good. We’ve got our financial house in order.” And then the refrigerator breaks. And then you remember, “You’ve got to pay a bill.” Then the dog has to go to the vet. Then another one of your children has to go to the doctor for the third time this month. And over and over and over it goes.
Is this hitting home? Are you starting to realize that maybe your personal philosophy in life is to get a hold of all you can and really hang on to it tightly? But you are not getting anywhere.
Here’s the deal. If you are willing to be stingy with what God has given you, in time, you do see this lack, and that lack leads to anxiety. Anxiety. You are worried. You are fearful about tomorrow. You wonder, “Are we going to have enough? Are we going to be able to pay this bill? Are we going to be able to do this? Can we go here? Can we do that?”
And every night when you lay your head down, you lay it down with a sense of dread for tomorrow, because you never know. But you know, those who are close-fisted, the problem is that they have got their eyes on themselves and they are trusting in themselves alone. And if that’s you, you’ve got every right to be worried. Because you and I as human beings, we don’t even know what the next five minutes is going to bring. So think about it.
DISCUSSION: WHAT ARE YOU?
Are you an open-handed person? Are you a person characterized by generosity that leads to abundance that leads to confidence?
Or are you in fact closed-fisted—one who is stingy, stingy with your stuff and, as a result, you keep seeing a constant lack in your life that leads to anxiousness and a fearfulness about tomorrow?
Well, if you are an open-handed individual today, let me say to you “Keep doing what you are doing. It’s just going to keep getting better and better. Keep on keeping on.”
But if in fact, you are a closed-fisted individual, you need to make a move. You need to move closed-fisted hands into open-handed ones.