Summary: Five spiritual high risk/high reward principles that help us lead adventurous, exciting spiritual lives!
When did you last do something bold? When did you last color outside the lines, refusing to play it safe?
There’s a sign along the Alaskan Highway that reads, "Choose your rut carefully, you’ll be in it for the next 200 miles."
A lot of folks live their lives like that sign. Especially the spiritual dimension of their lives. They accept boredom as if somehow that makes them more spiritual.
But life is not meant to be monotonous. Life is meant to be an adventure!
In the first verse of Ecclesiastes 11, Solomon describes the risks taken by merchants in his day. They would "cast their bread upon the waters." That is, they would put their merchandise on boats to be shipped to foreign ports, hoping for a profitable return "after many days."
But consider these facts:
In Sol’s day, an awful lot of ships wrecked. Merchants would often take a total loss.
Pirates frequented the seas. Cargo was stolen.
Ship captains were often dishonest.
There certainly weren’t any insurance policies to cover losses.
And to top it off, there was a long wait to see if you were going to make any money.
Why would merchants take these risks? Because the reward was great!
By using this illustration Solomon is encouraging his readers to be risk takers. Not only does this scripture encourage us to be risk takers - but it encourages us to be high-risk takers!
Immediately we protest. We think of all the reasons we’ve been taught not to take high risks. But understand this, SOLOMON IS TAKING AN ILLUSTRATION FROM THE MATERIAL WORLD AND GIVING IT A SPIRITUAL APPLICATION!
We know this because of what Solomon says in the rest of the chapter.
Here are some SPIRITUAL HIGH RISK/HIGH REWARD PRINICPLES:
1. GIVE OVER AND ABOVE EXPECTATIONS.
Ecclesiastes 11:2 - "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth."
Since the future is uncertain we should hoard our material possessions, right? WRONG!
Sure, conventional wisdom teaches us to save for a "rainy day". But Jesus taught us in The Parable of the Rich Fool", to not only lay up treasure for ourselves, but also to be rich toward God. (Luke 12:21)
If you always hoard what God has blessed you with and don’t share with others you’ve totally missed the point of what being rich toward God is all about.
Solomon says "give a portion to seven, and also to eight." The number seven is the biblical number of completion. You would be doing what was expected of you to give a portion of your goods to seven people. But Solomon says - try something radical for God - give to the eighth person also! Take the high risk! Go ahead, "cast your bread upon the waters!"
The following story is a little lengthy, but it wonderfully proves Solomon’s point:
"The Rich Family in Our Church" by Eddie Ogan
(From Wit and Wisdom - June 1, 1998)
"I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy 12, and my older sister Darlene, 16. We lived at home with mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things.
My dad had died 5 years before, leaving mom with seven school kids to raise and no money. By 1946 my older sisters were married, and my brothers had left home.
A month before Easter, the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. Then we decided that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill.
Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents, we could buy enought cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We made $20 on pot holders.
That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much!
After all, every Sunday the pastor reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering. The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church!