My natural habit is to hoarde and my selfish tendancy is to take. Solomon here says, "NO! Make it your practice to provide." He is teaching us the important lesson of how to become a gracious giver.
These six verses are on charity and benevolence. For years I think I've missed their significance and relevance and have simply skimmed over them rushing to get to the next "meaty" section of Solomon's sermon. Not this year - cue the sound of squalling brakes - I'm stopping and I'm staying and I'm staring at what lies before me.
Israel's great preaching king is "pressing the rich to abound in liberality to the poor." Now, before you say "Well, that doesn't apply to me, I'm not very rich, I don't have much at all", let me challenge your thinking. Comparatively speaking - on the scales of humanity, we are all so rich. Even in our current economy we have so much more than many in this world and we can always find someone in worse straits than ourselves. So may we listen and learn without trying to weasel our way out of this life lesson.
In our abundance (and even in our mediocrity) are we giving freely to others?
We should be. As Solomon says, we need to "cast our bread on the surface of the waters." We need to give graciously ...
"...even though it may seem thrown away and lost as that which is cast upon the
waters. Send it on a voyage and send it as a venture, as merchants that trade by
sea. Trust it upon the waters; it shall not sink." (Matthew Henry)
We need not only to give graciously but we need to give generously. "Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight...."
"Be free and liberal in the works of charity. Give not a pittance, but a 'portion' - a meal. God is rich in mercy to all, to us, though unworthy; He gives liberally, and upbraids not with former gifts." (Henry)
We need to give graciously and generously and we need to give without excuse. "He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap."
If we look hard enough we will always find a reason to keep rather than to cast. "Well...bad times may be a coming. I probably need to store up a bit more for myself. I'll give another day."
"If we stand thus magnifying every little difficulty we shall never go on with our work." (Henry)
Yes, bad times may be "a coming" which is all the more reason for us to give graciously and generously this day!! "You do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth." Now is the opportunity. Let us do good while we are able and excuse our excuses from our presence!
In our gracious and generous charity, in our non-excusable beneficence, we must trust. We need to trust God with our giving - even if we cannot see clearly how He will provide. "Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things."
God has promised that He "loves a cheerful giver" and that as we give it shall be given unto us - good measure, pressed down, and shaken together! His economy is not like ours - praise Him for that truth!! He will make good on His promise and follow through on His word even if we cannot fathom how. Do we fully understand the wind? Do we fully understand our own formation? No, yet we trust that it is and that it works. Let us do the same with our liberality.
"Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening." Let us give and let us trust. Whether out of little or out of lot let us give graciously knowing that God has always outgiven us and always will.
In His glorious grace,