Tobit: Begrudge

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Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

“Give alms from your possessions, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor, and the face of God will not be turned away from you.”

Tobit 4:7 (NRSV). The book of Tobit is part of the Apocrypha and labeled as one of the Deuterocanonical books. It is generally not included among Protestant Christians’ list of canonical books, while it is for Roman Catholics and most Orthodox traditions.

Regardless of our modern reception of Tobit, it is important to understand that this story about a righteous, law-abiding Jew likely influenced Jews within the early church. Today Tobit offers advice that sounds similar to the words of Solomon in Proverbs 11:24-25.

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

The Apostle Paul the exhortation not to give reluctantly appears to echo this idea from Tobit to “not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it.”

This is a timely word in America as we approach Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and the Christmas giving season. Give generously. Treat the poor how you want God to treat you.