Daily Update #278

Today’s reading:

ECCLESIASTES 11:1-4

1.“Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.
2. Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
3. If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth.   Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.
4. Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” 

Verse 1 of this passage is probably familiar to many people.   The idea of casting your bread (your hard earned food, clothing and material resources) upon the waters seems like a rather foolish thing to do.  We might ask “What good would it do there, it will only float away on a current, either to be wasted or someone else will benefit from it?!”  It is risky.

Generous giving is the theme of verse 2.   The reason given may seem strange “for you do not know when disaster may come upon the land.”    I wonder what our instinct is when we expect disaster to happen?   Given that possibility, do we believe that it would be safer to hold onto what we have, rather than give things away?

Perhaps it was from his own experience that Solomon reached a different conclusion, believing that because God is no man’s debtor He can be trusted with the outcome if we cast our bread upon the waters and live generously.     If we try to hold onto things we may lose them anyway, but if we give them away, someone else may benefit and be generous in return. 

There are many things outside of our control, however hard we try – the weather and acts of nature are a case in point.   (I am writing this while rain is lashing down the window!)  
We often get frustrated with circumstances, but God is bigger and can be trusted, as long as we behave in a reasonably sensible manner.    We cannot prepare for every eventuality.     If we wait for weather conditions to be favourable before we do anything we may wait a long time!

Walking with God is an adventure.   We should be prepared for some risky living.  He wants us to be generous with our lives as we depend on Him to see us through difficulties that may arise.  
Jesus told a story of a wealthy businessman as he prepared for a long journey with no fixed return date.  In his absence he expected his servants to manage his resources profitably, and entrusted three of them with an amount of money to trade with.  In each case the amount was appropriate to their perceived ability to manage it.    On the master’s eventual return the first two servants were joyfully able to give good accounting for what they had done.  They were commended and given more responsibility.   The third, however was only entrusted with a small amount.  He had a very grudging attitude and wasted both his opportunity and his master’s resources and was severely reprimanded for his failure.  

There is a strong link between people’s view of God and their willingness to trust and serve Him.   The first two servants had learnt, as Solomon had, that God is generous and to be trusted.   For the servants this meant diligence and joy in service, for Solomon it meant that he could afford to be generous too.   By casting his bread upon the water he was confident of a good return.   With God it is safe to take risks – He will abundantly repay.  

Our response to God arises from our view of Him.  If we believe that His purposes are always good and He is completely trustworthy, if our hearts are grateful and our lives are fully committed to Him we will find joy in serving Him because we know that He is generous.       If, on the other hand, we don’t really trust Him and have never made good use of opportunities to whole-hearted commitment to Him, we are unlikely to respond positively if He asks us to do something.

We may not think we have much to offer for His Kingdom.    We can waste our lives by living selfishly and grudgingly.  We can be mean-spirited and ungrateful, which is tragic.
  
God, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, calls us to generous and risky living.   Most of us are richer than we think!  We may or may not have lots of material blessings, but we each have a unique experience of life, family background, gifts, training, time, energy etc., all of which can be used in God’s service.  Our lives (not just our money, but everything we are and have) are a trust from Him.   Sometimes pain and tough choices are involved, but He calls us to give of ourselves in obedience to Him and not count the cost.       He will provide abundantly for us as we do so. 
 
…………
 
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee:
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
 
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love:
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
 
Take my voice, and let me sing,
Always, only, for my King:
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
 
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold:
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
 
Take my will, and make it thine;
It shall be no longer mine:
Take my heart – it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
 
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At thy feet its treasure-store;
Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
 
(Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836-79)

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