Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 contains some interesting teaching about generosity. In it, Solomon uses words like give in v2, sow and reap in v4 and sow and prosper in v6.
Open hands, not grasping hands
To “cast your bread upon the waters” is to throw it, you have to let go.
Don’t be a hoarder, be generous.
In Luke 12:16-21 we read the parable about the rich man whose land was so productive that he decided to build bigger barns in order to store all the produce for himself. Jesus explains the folly of this decision.
This man is thinking only about himself. He is a grasper, he’s trying to hold on.
Generosity is the antidote to selfishness.
When I give myself to others my focus is not upon myself.
Generosity is not confined to finances, we can be generous with ourselves … with our love, our kindness, with our time and our energy, with our words.
Generosity bears fruit
When Solomon writes that “you will find it after many days” he is referring to the sowing and reaping principle.
In Galatians 6:9 Paul writes, “… let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
When we are generous we are doing good, and Paul makes it clear that doing good bears fruit.
Let this be an encouragement but not your motive. Let generosity be motive enough – think about how generous God has been and is towards you!
Sowing and reaping is a principle, not a formula.
Generosity is pictured by an open hand,
not a grasping hand
Be generous in all directions
Ecclesiastes 11:2-3 encourages us not to hold back but rather to be generous in all directions, to this one and to that one. It explains that circumstances are usually beyond our control, we don’t know what’s going to happen so just go for it – be generous anyway.
It includes a sense that we should be generous now because one day we might be the ones in need of someone else’s generosity.
Be generous in all circumstances
In verses 4 and 5 we learn that if we wait for perfect conditions we will never sow anything and that, in any case, there is so much we don’t understand anyway. So let’s not put it off while we wait for perfect circumstances or a full understanding, let’s just be like God and be generous.
As we travel on a journey of generosity let’s learn to be generous with our lives, being generous with who we are and with what we have.
Let’s be a generous people doing as much good as we can, knowing that the results are in God’s hands. It will touch the lives of those around us in so many ways. For some, our generosity will be part of their journey towards Jesus.