1Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 3If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. 4He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-4 ESV)
We come now to the beginning of the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes. Up until now, King Solomon has recognized and opined on the emptiness of life, the unfairness of life, and struggles of life. He has taught us that things don’t satisfy us and that nothing lasts beyond this lifetime, not even us. So he now turns to advising us on how to live properly.
Rather than chasing after things of this earth, we should be living lives characterized by wisdom. But not human wisdom. Godly wisdom.
And it is often the case that godly wisdom – wisdom that comes from God – does not make sense to limited human minds like our own. The things that God tells us to do and the way He tells us to live are usually just the opposite of how we would be naturally inclined to do things.
But we’ve already learned in our study that applying human wisdom to our lives doesn’t work; it doesn’t make our lives better. And despite its counter-intuitive nature, God’s way of doing things works; it does make our lives better.
One thing that God commands us to do is cast our bread upon the waters. Bread is sustenance. It is the things we need to live, like food and money. But rather than keep it for ourselves, God tells us to do something counter-intuitive: give it away to those in need.
When we do, we can be certain that God will take of us (you will find it) in the future if and when we are in need.
When we give we are to give to those we can and even more. This is the meaning behind the phrase “give a portion to seven, or even to eight“. This type of proverbial reference (X, X+1) is common in Hebrew [Proverbs 6:16, 30:18; Amos 1:3].
We should not be stingy with our giving. We should give what we think is appropriate and then add a bit more to it, as we tend to underestimate how much we should give. The reason for this is simple: we know not what disaster may happen on earth.
We shouldn’t wait to give to others until we are sure of their need. Just like clouds that are full of rain will eventually empty themselves on the earth, we can be sure there is someone who is in need right now or who will be shortly.
But too many of us wait After all, we might need the money ourselves. But this is exactly the opposite of how God wants us to live. We want to hold on to our money so we find any excuse not to give.
The one who observes the wind will not sow; the one who regards the clouds will not reap. In other words, those who wait for the perfect opportunity miss out.
The perfect time to give to others in need is right now. Hesitating in our giving or to being stingy with our giving is not wise.
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