Summary: When we risk according to God’s purpose, we are greatly rewarded.




Chuck Swindoll tells about a sign along an Alaskan highway that reads: “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next 200 miles.” Lots of people are in ruts and don’t even know it. Most of us tend to settle for predictable and comfortable lives – especially those of us who are Christians. We’re apt to believe that the more comfortable and predictable we are, the more Christian we are.

Very few of us dare to be bold with our lives and seize every day as a fresh gift from God. Ps. 118:24 – This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Instead of saying, “Good morning, Lord,” we say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!” Very few people roll out of bed in the morning with a fresh enthusiasm for the opportunities God presents for them that day.

In this next to the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us, “Don’t play it safe!” Don’t let fear, pessimism, and paranoia rule your life. Decide to enjoy life instead of just enduring life.

He’s spent the two previous chapters teaching us that unpredictable things happen in our lives and the only way to live life is under God’s providential hand. It’s the only way that life is fulfilling. But he reminds us that living life under God’sprovidential hand involves some risk. But when we risk according to God’s purpose, we are greatly rewarded.


Eccl. 11:1 – Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. This verse is not very meaningful to our current society. In biblical times, the most profitable business was the import and export business. You had to trust your “bread” on the “waters”.

Your product made more money when shipped by sea than by land. It got to its destination quicker. You were more able to take advantage of economic conditions. The profit would then come back to you in a greater way. But there were some risks involved: pirates, storms, and disreputable “middle men” who might steal your profit.

However, there were much greater risks that take place when you didn’t send out your bread. If you just store the bread, it molds. Then you lose your investment as well. The idea is that it’s better to get it to market and have a chance to make some profit as opposed to just letting it sit and rot. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents where the servant buried his money in the ground. He got nothing out of it – not even what he could have earned by just depositing it with a banker.

Solomon is talking about generosity. Don’t hold back! Whatever you have, put it out there. Invest in people. Don’t let what God has given you just sit and do nothing. And that doesn’t just mean money. It means treasure as well as time, talent, and testimony. Too many people live by this philosophy: Get all you can. Can all you get. Then sit on the can. That’s the philosophy of life “lived under the sun.”

Life “lived under heaven” operates under a different principle. Solomon tells us in Prov. 11:24-25 – One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Jesus put it this way in Lk. 6:3, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Eccl. 11:2 – Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. Don’t send all your stuff out on one ship. If you send it on one and something calamitous happens, you’ve lost everything. If you send it on several, your product will not all be destroyed. In financial circles, they call this

“diversifying your portfolio.”

Solomon is saying that generosity does not stop by giving to just one thing. Generosity invests in multiple things. The phrase “give portions to seven, yes to eight…” has to be understood in light of Hebrew numerology. “7” is the number of completion or completeness. “8” is one step beyond.

In Prov. 19:17, Solomon says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for

what he has done.”

Solomon’s advice in these two verses is that life will produce nothing of significance without faith. The key to living by faith is acting without being able to see exactly how things will turn out. 2 Cor. 5:7 – “We live by faith, not by sight.”

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