Ecclesiastes 11:1 “Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days.”
“As if he had said, Cast — That is, freely and liberally bestow; thy bread — That is, thy money, or provisions, or the necessaries of life, of whatever kind; upon the waters — Upon the poor, on whom thy bounty may at first, and for a time, appear to be lost.”Joseph Benson
Giving of your provisions to others in need can be rewarding and difficult, it can bring joy and at other times frustration. The world has so much need and for the one who wants to help others, there is no shortage of those who would take.
I knew a man who wanted to start helping the homeless in our town, he decided to purchase some bananas and give them to those who held signs that stated they were hungry and needed food. Much to his disappointment, one of the first people he approached and offered up his supply asked him if his bananas were organic or not, to which he didn’t have an answer, and so the homeless man denied his offer. Needless to say, this good samaritan decided that feeding the homeless was a ministry he was going to forego.
I’ve learned through years of providing clothes, blankets, food, and at times money to those in need can be an endeavor that carries with it very little immediate satisfaction. Many refuse to give thanks, some deny your help all together, others run when approached, while a few will listen and have a heartfelt response which makes it all worthwhile. The hungry become hungry again a few hours later, the blankets get wet and thrown away, shoes wear out, and money is often used for behavior that is destructive. If every act of benevolence was only an attempt to relieve the need, the help would only be a proverbial small patch on a gaping breach in the wall.
When benevolence is accompanied with the gospel, the supplies become only the means by which lasting significance might be applied.
Bread is representative of your supply. The water is representative of the world.
Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
Isaiah 57:20 “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”
When we cast our supply upon the waters, we give to others in need. If the giving is done with purpose, then it will bring forth it’s desired effect. What effect of giving should a follower of Christ look for?
First, what purposes carry real value?
Anything of value must have God’s power behind it. Anything that glorifies God has weight and purpose. If I glorify myself through my generosity, I receive my reward at that moment and no more will be given. If I give as unto the Lord, I give to show God’s love to others with the hope that they will know His love.
It is in the midst of showing love to others where diligence is needed.
If the giver is looking for immediate satisfaction from helping others, I question if the intent is born out of godly love. The attributes of love are expressed by the heart of giving and that heart does not look out for itself.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
- building up others
- not easily offended
- despising evil
- rejoicing in truth
If your belief is in Christ, your actions will follow. If your hope is in that which is eternal, your actions will be motivated towards others with this in mind. If your generosity is founded in God’s love, then regardless of how people respond, you know that God can use it for His glory and for their salvation.
Those who are motivated by godly love can endure even unto death.
1 Peter 5:2-4 “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
Diligence is a virtue that indicates the person has an eye for things to come. If you give, give in such a way that the receiver knows the love of Jesus is to blame. The love of God in you may be the only way someone ever sees what true love looks like, whichever way you express that love is up to you.
The hope is that one day, someone will be there in glory, rejoicing because you chose to love unconditionally. When we witness the pleasure of God because of faithfulness, this will be the greatest reward.