“Unto You, O Lord, do I bring my life. O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You.”
Psalm 25: 1,2
“Lord, You are my lover,
My flowing stream,
And I am Your reflection.”
Mechtild of Magdeburg
Today’s Study Text:
“She came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels bearing spices, very much gold, and precious stones.”
1 Kings 10: 2
“Lessons Taught By the Lady From Sheba” Part 2
Lesson #2 – From the words of Jesus: “Give, and there will be gifts for you; a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap; because the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”
Luke 6: 38
“It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.”
Psalm 112: 5
“Generosity”: Magnanimous. Liberal in giving. Bounteous. Marked by abundance.
“A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away, the more he had.”
What does the word ‘generous’ mean in my own life?
In what ways do I feel I could be more generous in my life?
Are there other ways than just “giving” money that I can show a spirit of generosity?
“A cheerful giver does not count the cost of what (she) gives. (Her) heart is set on pleasing and cheering (the person) to whom the gift is given.”
John of Norwich
“The truly generous is the truly wise, and (she) who loves not others, lives unblest.”
I love this familiar Persian Proverb:
“What I kept, I lost;
What I spent, I had;
What I gave, I have.”
What true words, for it is what we share throughout life’s journey that not only blesses the recipient, but also showers abundant blessings upon the giver as well. And this becomes an important element in today’s study, as we come to the second lesson we can learn from the “Lady From Sheba.”
Because of her desire to find out more about the wisdom of Solomon, and as was revealed yesterday, in the God who he served, she decided to make the long, arduous journey to Jerusalem to see if what she had heard about Solomon was really true.
But here’s where Lesson #2 shines out immediately. The Queen didn’t arrive at Solomon’s doorstep empty-handed. She came bearing gifts.
While there are some scholars who note that there was a huge potential for a political alliance between the Queen of Sheba’s country and Israel, the idea that she would arrive with gifts would not necessarily be out of the ordinary. However, if we take the Bible as it is written, which we do here in Transformation Garden, the key reason noted in 1 Kings 10 for the Queen’s visit was her desire specifically to learn from Solomon. And to zero in more closely on her special aim, she wanted to find out more about the God he served, the God who had blessed him so abundantly with wisdom and understanding as well as bountiful prosperity.
We find that as the Queen’s caravan arrived in Jerusalem, there were camels laden with “spices, much gold and precious stones.” There’s every indication that the Queen of Sheba came with an over-abundance of gifts, and I asked myself, “Why?”
First, she may have wanted to impress Solomon with her own wealth and that of her country.
Second, indeed, she may have wanted to use these gifts as “carrots” dangling before Solomon, hoping to draw him into a trade alliance.
However, since I’ve read the entire story of the “Lady From Sheba,” I’d like to offer a third reason she came bearing gifts and it is simply this — she was a generous-hearted person who came to Jerusalem with an unselfish heart and not an empty hand. Just as the Magi from the East arrived at the manger of the baby Jesus bearing gifts, so the Queen from Arabia came to learn about the God of heaven and earth and from an open and inquiring heart, she generously shared the bounty with which she was blessed.
What an important lesson for you and me to take away from this God-ordained encounter between an Arab Queen and an Israelite King.
Recently I read words from a writer who noted that in today’s modern society, we have replaced the spirit of generosity with a word we call “charity.” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not demeaning charitable giving in the least. I’ve worked for literally hundreds of charitable organizations in my 30-year career. I’ve witnessed first-hand, the tremendous benefits which come to “givers” and “receivers” who share in the blessings provided by unselfish hearts that serve.
But how often I’ve wondered, just what the consequence would be, if generous hearts were so prevalent and gave with such unfettered abundance that there was no need for organizations to have to pay for the costs associated with funding complete departments in their organizations with staff whose job it is to do nothing but ask for money.
In the life of the Queen of Sheba, I find an individual who gave without being asked. And I’ll even go another step further. We find throughout the Bible, that while the word “generous” or “generosity” is not used, both in the Hebrew and Greek, a word used by Webster’s Dictionary to define “generosity” is used over-and-over, and it is the word abundance, which in the Hebrew means majesty and greatness and in the Greek means abounding copiously or in large quantity.
Interestingly, in the Old Testament, the word “abundance,” which can mean generosity, is not used to denote God’s ability to give us wealth and make us live on “Easy Street.” Instead, this word is used to define God’s mercy, His long-suffering nature and His unfailing kindness. And I’d like to interject, this was exactly why the Queen of Sheba made her lengthy desert trip to Jerusalem. She wanted to get a glimpse into the life which God envisioned for those of His children who had open hearts and generous spirits like hers.
In doing some study for today’s devotional, I was led to the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, and I wondered to myself if it was wisdom like this that he shared with the Queen of Sheba:
“The profit of the earth is for all; the king himself is served by the field and in all, a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields. He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance with gain. This also is vanity, (emptiness, falsity, and futility.)
Ecclesiastes 5: 9, 10
What we come to understand from the Queen of Sheba is that a generous heart, a giving hand, and a spirit of unselfishness brings untold joy to the bearer of gifts. Please remember, it is not the size of the gift, it is the act of giving which releases a torrent of blessings in our lives. Jesus made this profoundly clear, when one day, at the Temple offering bucket, He witnessed a small gift being put into the “treasury.” This is how Mark tells the story in Mark 12: 41-44 (Amplified Bible):
“And (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich people were throwing in large sums. And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites, the smallest coins, which together make half of a cent. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘Truly and surely I tell you, this widow has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury. For they all threw in out of their abundance, but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had — even all she had on which to live.”
As Sir Henry Talor so eloquently penned, “He who gives what he would as readily as he throws away, gives without generosity, for the essence of generosity is self-sacrifice.” These words mirror those spoken by Jesus and are a clear call to each of us to cultivate a heart of generous giving in our own lives.
“You do not have to be rich to be generous. If he has the spirit of true generosity, a pauper can give like a prince.”
Corrine U. Wells
“We let the world overcome us; we live too much in continual fear of the chances and changes of mortal life. We let things go too much their own way. We try too much to get what we can by our own selfish wits, without considering our neighbour. We follow too much the ways and fashions of the day, doing and saying and thinking anything that comes uppermost, just because there is so much around us. Free us from our selfish interests, and guide us, good Lord, to see Thy way and to do Thy will.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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