What Are You Doing with Yourself?
We live in the age of self. We want to be first in line. We want to be number one. King Solomon knew all about being number one, but in the book of Ecclesiastes, he found out it wasn't all it's cracked up to be: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," he said (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
The anecdote for this self-ism is found in Ecclesiastes 11:1-6. Look at the four commands in this paragraph: cast, give, sow your seed, and do not withhold. These can be divided into two broader commands: invest yourself and commit yourself.
First, invest yourself. "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1). The idea of casting speaks of openhanded generosity. Be willing to have an open heart with an open hand to a legitimate need. Release rather than hoard -- but be wise. The Hebrew word for cast means to send forth or ship out. This could be a metaphor for sending out grain on the surface of the water via ships, dispersing it to different places for investment purposes, which Solomon did.
Verse two says, "Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth." In other words, give your investments in a diversified manner. Your generosity is powerful, but you need to be careful how and where you give. A lot of us give sympathetically and emotionally rather than biblically and thoughtfully. If you're giving to a ministry, you should ask: is it fruitful? We have to be careful where we invest.
Notice the promise that follows: "For you will find it after many days" (v. 1). Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you" (Luke 6:38). God loves to bless those who are generous with what He has given to them. We shouldn't limit ourselves only to investing money; we should invest our time, talent, forgiveness, love, and patience. When you release your life willingly and sacrificially, it will come back to you in some way.
Second, commit yourself. Look at verses 3-4: "If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap." The first step in commitment is to be diligent. Don't focus on rain clouds or wind or falling trees; commit yourself to working on the things you can change. Look at verse six: "In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand." If you're waiting for the perfect conditions, you won't sow, so get up in the morning and do it anyway. "For you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good" (v. 6). There'll be things in your life that are a real drag. But as you diversify your generosity and work diligently, who knows what God will do?
Also, be dependent. "As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything" (v. 5). In other words, God's ways are unfathomable, and He knows everything. If you get a bumper crop one year, bless the Lord. If the rain floods it out, bless the Lord. Will there be times that are tough? Yes. But let Him be your anchor.
I'll sum it up in these two points: Number one, be connected to some group where you can invest yourself in other people. Second, don't allow bad things in life to stop that commitment. People may not understand your openhearted generosity in the name of the Lord, but do it anyway.
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