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Chuck Swindoll tells a story about his time in the Marine Corps. His barracks mate was a young guy who made it clear he wanted nothing of religion: ďDonít cram that stuff down my throat, OK?Ē Chuck was involved in a Scripture memory program and asked his Marine buddy to help him review his verses. He was told, ďIíll help you with the words, Chuck, but I ainít interested in being some kind of monk!Ē This Marine went along with the plan--he listened, corrected Chuck, even encouraged him, but there was never a glimmer of interestÖuntil 25 years later. Chuck got a phone call one day. ďHey Chuck, this is Eddie, your old bunk buddy in Okinawa. Iím a Christian thanks to you. Remember the verses we worked on? It worked!Ē
Jesus commended a poor woman who gave to the temple two ďmitesĒ, an insignificant amount, yet Her giving received special notice from God. We donít give to gain favor from God; we certainly donít do it to get to Heaven. We give because we canít help ourselves; weíre grateful for all God has done, and we want to give, cheerfully.
We need to keep from limiting our charity; verse 2 says to ďgive portions to seven, eightĒ, whatever is needed. 7 is the Hebrew number of completeness; 8 goes one step further. Giving becomes habit, a way of life--in good times and times of disaster. We donít wait for an earthquake or flood--we give regularly. In verse 3 our kindness is compared to clouds swelling with rain, the natural outflow of a full life. We empty ourselves again and again. Our lives are full with Godís blessings, and we in turn shower others with our bounty. We donít know what disasters may come upon the land--in other words, this could be our last day, so weíre benevolent.
Solomon uses a symbol of trees falling to the south or north in verse 3. Whatever direction a tree falls, that is where it is meant to be, according to Godís providence. In the same way, we are placed where God wants us, for His purpose. Things donít happen by accident. The people Solomon is writing to are struggling with causality; they see life as meaningless: Does anything matter in life? As people of faith, we accept Godís will and we try to bloom where we are planted.
Sometimes we lack faith, and hesitate to act. Verse 4 cautions that we lose out by waiting for the perfect time and occasion to proceed. Waiting for perfect conditions can keep us from growing, and failure to get things done. Time and events wait for no one. Procrastination is the thief of time. Faith means trusting God, especially when His timing disagrees with ours.
One thing we eventually discover about life is just how little we really know. We frequently are baffled over what God does in His world, and why, and we have no control over His activity. Verse 5 reminds us how we donít know the path of the wind, nor can we comprehend the mystery of birth. We donít need to know all the answers to lifeís mysteries. We marvel at Creation and are humbled by all that God has wrought. The winds are directed by His command. Until God takes us home we will not grasp the mystery at work in all He does.
God expects us to continue sowing our seed, verse 6. We canít foresee whether our efforts will be fruitful,
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