Investing in the Future
"Cast your bread upon
the waters, for you will find it after many days." Ecclesiastes
Solomon's pearl of wisdom is similar to saying: if you
want to drink from the well, you first must prime the pump. This passage
is about sowing and investing, giving out and having the faith that
God will give back to you in return- someday, if not immediately.
The Turks have a similar proverb. "Do good, throw
it into the water. If the fish doesn't know it, God does." The
idea is that giving is living, living in a way that's honouring to God.
Here's how it's done.
Give without regard for rewards
Casting your bread upon the waters is not a give -to-get scheme. Notice
that Ecclesiastes 11:1 does not say, "cast your bread upon the
waters today, and God will bring back tenfold tonight." It's true
that such verses as Proverbs 3:9-10 say, "Honour the Lord with
your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase, so
your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with
new wine." And frequently in God's Word the Lord promises that
when we give, He will respond by blessing us. But why we give is just
as important as what we give, and often even more so.
We do not give in order to get. The statement in Luke
6:38, is a promise of blessing, and not the purpose for giving. We don't
give to get in return, we give because it's good to give. When we exercise
responsible giving, God expresses bountiful blessing.
The word give appears more than 1,000 times in the Bible.
Obviously God considers giving very important. Proverbs 13:7 warns,
"there is one who makes himself rich, yet has great riches."
In other words, the person who focuses on getting ends up ultimately
with nothing, while the one who majors on giving will have an abundance.
So why do we cast our bread upon the waters? We do it because it's right!
Yet when we do what is right, God takes care of us.
Give without regard to adversity
Some people are playing it safe. They have heard of a huge economic
crisis coming and they want to be ready for it. Or they want to make
sure they have enough money invested for retirement. Who knows how much
is enough? Some want to be sure that if they give, it won't inconvenience
them later on. But Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 11:4, "He who observes
the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap."
In other words, cast your bread upon the waters without regard to adversity.
I'm not suggesting you should not preapre for the future.
Careful preparation is a biblical concept (Prov. 6:6-8; 30:25). But
too many people are giving far too little to the Lord's work now simply
because they lack the faith in God to believe He will meet their needs
in the future. If the coming economic crisis doesn't come, or if you
do not live to see it come, will you be better off casting your bread
upon the water and trusting God, or hoarding your wealth in an attempt
to hedge against hard times? Isn't God still God during hard times as
well as the good times? Certainly, sometimes it's more difficult to
give than it is at other times. But if you wait for the perfect time
to give, chances are you won't give at all. Eternity is rapidly approaching.
Cast your bread upon the waters without regard to adversity because
it's the right thing to do, not because it's the easy thing to do.
Give without regard to time
In verse 6 we're told, "In the morning sow
your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do
not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike
will be good." Solomon is saying, "you need to cast
your bread upon the waters without regard to time." Sometimes we
cast our bread upon the waters when we're young. We invest in our own
future and the ministry God will give us. Lots of people have done that
by pursuing an education. Many have used the years of their youth to
learn skills that they're now using for the Lord. That's casting your
bread upon the waters while it's still morning. But don't miss this.
Casting your bread is not a youthful activity only. You also should
cast your bread upon the waters even when you're older. Remember what
you invest in eternity lasts forever; what you invest in time will only
last a few years. Don't be shortsighted. Solomon says, "In the
evening do not withhold your hand."
Investing in the future
Here' the great pearl of wisdom from this verse. In essence, He askes
us to invest in the future, not knowing exactly what the future holds,
and not really expecting anything to come back to us. Is that wise?
Like a fox it's wise. It's doing what is right, even though no one may
know except God. But He is the great rewarder. He keeps accurate accounts.
He wants you to benefit to the fullest extent possible from casting
your bread. What you invest in eternity benefits you in time and eternity.
Doesn't it seem strange that we cling so tightly to our "bread"
when God's pearl of wisdom counsels us to let it fly? Cast your bread.
Try it, and you'll find it works.
************************Letter # 31 (18.8.2002)****************