Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Take Up Thy Cross"1 (Lyrics)
Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. (NIV)
Some of the simplest joys that I can remember of living in Scotland were the times when Evelyn and I would take our two daughters to Culzean Castle to feed the birds at the Swan Pond. It was always wonderful to watch our girls smile, laugh, and be happy as they threw the bread to the beautiful swans.
The swans knew what to expect, and they would majestically glide across the water to feast on the bread. Usually, a number of mallard and tufted ducks would try to get into the action, but because of their bigger size, the swans would get most of the bread. As the sun shone on the water and we heard the giggles and laughter of our girls, life felt so good.
I wonder what bird-less waters that the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote about! Whenever we threw the bread on the Swan Pond waters, everything was soon eaten. If we went back there in three hours' time, we would find nothing left, so this verse puzzles me.
I've heard people use this verse, including some preachers, to encourage others to give their money to God because it would be returned to them. I also know that some people claim this to be true, but I wonder about their motive for giving in the first place. If we give to God because we want to get something in return, is that an offering, or bargaining? Isn't it more Christ-like to give without expecting anything in return, in order to live by Christ's teaching that "it is more blessed to give than to receive," as the apostle Paul pointed out? (Acts 20:35 NIV)
So, by all means, let's cast our resources upon the living waters of Christ and His Church, but let's also not look for anything in return. After all, aren't the complete forgiveness of our sins and the promise of everlasting life more than enough?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving everything of Yourself so that we may be restored to God's eternal love. Help us to give what we can of our time, talents, and money to those needful opportunities that will come our way this week. Enable us to do this selflessly so that You will receive all the glory and honour for the good deeds and charitable giving that we do in Your name. Amen.