While attending my son's baseball practice on a recent winter day, I was surprised to discover a short path of stepping stones leading from the parking area to the field. While stepping stones in that context aren't unusual, these were unique, for each one was inscribed with a Scripture verse. Most verses were taken from the Psalms or Proverbs, and offered appropriate encouragement to young athletes to listen to instruction and work diligently on the field of play.
One stone in particular caught my eye, since it seemed out of place from the theme laid down by the rest. There, on a stone near a drinking fountain, was Proverbs 11:25:
The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
I can only assume the verse was used in playful reference to the stone's close proximity to the water fountain. But on further reflection, this powerful verse has little to do with water at all!
I found the phrase "liberal soul" particularly interesting, since the modern meaning usually applies to those who seek to steer a society away from its traditional (e.g., conservative) practices or beliefs. But after some study, I discovered that this unique reference to the "liberal soul" (its only occurrence in Scripture) was drawn from the original meaning of "liberal"--that is, liberating, or generous. And in its biblical context, it refers to a person who is generous with his resources to help others.
But notice the Lord's promise to those who are generous--they shall "be made fat." This is not a biblical endorsement to become physically overweight, but rather a guarantee that God will amply provide for those who are first generous. What a beautiful promise from the Great Provider Himself!
The second part of the verse uses the concept of water to convey a common theme of blessing found throughout Scripture. The phrase "he that watereth" literally means someone who refreshes. And in turn, that person is promised that he "shall be watered also" with similar refreshment. Again, what a wonderful promise of continued renewal to those who first seek to refresh others!
Within the confines of a simple baseball park on the blustery plains of Texas, I was shown a great lesson. Namely, in order to receive, we must first give; in order to accumulate, we must first scatter; and in order to become refreshed, we must first seek the refreshment of others. The world's way to prosperity calls for guarding and hoarding our earthly riches. But this is not the Lord's way--His way of gaining is by giving.
As a ministry, ICR earnestly seeks to glorify the Creator in all that it does, and we freely give of our ministry to all who ask. Similar "liberal souls" who share our vision to communicate the wonders of God's magnificent creation have upheld us through their prayers and finances. We can do so much more, but not without God's provision through His people. Won't you prayerfully consider how you can partner with us?
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations.
Cite this article: Morris IV, H. 2008. The Liberal Soul. Acts & Facts. 37 (2): 17.