Have you ever been around a stingy person?
I don’t mean a greedy person, but a stingy person. Someone who’s greedy and always wants more. Someone who’s stingy doesn’t want to release anything. And stingy people are rarely happy people. Try as they may, something will always take their money away, from bills to emergencies.
If you ever sit down to have a meal with someone who is stingy, it’s a unique experience. You’ll feel like you’re imposing on them—even if they invited you!
Consider Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. He bemoaned doing anything for anyone and even begrudged giving Bob Cratchit all of Christmas Day off. Scrooge considered Christmas Day another way to pick a man’s pocket. Coal for the fire? Needless. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends? Humbug.
A friend of mine had an employer that acted like a Scrooge about holidays, vacations, and sick days. This employer would complain about having to pay his employees for time off—time he gave them by their contracts and agreements. In his mind, if you weren’t there, you shouldn’t get paid. Fortunately for my friend today (that the fictitious character Bob Cratchit didn’t have), labor laws help in the 21st century.
The heart of Scrooge or my friend’s employer is the same as that of the stingy person in Proverbs 23:6-8.
6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; 7 for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.Proverbs 23:6-8
New International Version
Stingy people might use the words of generosity, but their attitude is obvious. The feeble attempts to show hospitality are offset by their absent-heartedness. Their words become lies dressed up in hypocritical smiles.
Scripture’s counsel to us is pretty extreme: “do not eat.” Don’t sit with them. Avoid them. Scripture isn’t saying to avoid speaking to them about Jesus, but the implication of the Proverb is they are cold towards the things of God.
Our mission to them, then, is not to entertain their false hospitality, but to not enable them to keep the façade.
Meals in the world of King Solomon were more than just food. They were expressions of friendship, camaraderie, alliances, and/or intimacy. By extension, Proverbs 23:6-8 is telling us to avoid intimate friendships with stingy people.
Scripture tells us the generous are blessed (Proverbs 22:9). As followers of the way of Jesus, we should want no part of a lifestyle leading us away from the Lord’s blessing. Not only is it not wise, it’s unthinkable! Why would we not want the Lord’s blessing?
Like so many of the Proverbs, we are warned to be cautious with whom we befriend. In time, they will influence us. If we make friends with stingy people, they will influence us to be stingy. They will call us away from the Lord’s generosity.
Instead of sitting at their table of hypocritical rudeness, we politely decline to dine in the gracious generosity of the Lord’s provision.