More thoughts on Ecclesiastes 11

Back on August 31 I had posted an article about Ecclesiastes 11:1-4, “Casting bread upon the waters.” I have some more thoughts about that may be helpful and encouraging. This post will be not so much a single article but a collection of related thoughts.

The key words that come to mind in Ecclesiastes 11 are risk, stewardship, loss, trust the Lord, wisdom, contentment. The context of Ecclesiastes 11 can easily be adopted to wisdom about investing.

Regarding risk: Is risk different for a Christian? That is, does Christ make a difference in our view of risk? I think that the answer should be an unqualified “yes.” Perceived risk is directly related to trust in the Lord and to stewardship.

Stewardship is a word used mostly by Christians. Stewardship relates to how well my resources (primarily monetary, but they could also be time and talents) are being used for the purposes that Christ would approve.

CHANGED DEFINITIONS

            Since I have become a Christian, I find that even the definition of words related to money have changed. PROSPERITY: Prosperity has been dramatically redefined. Before I was a believer, “prosperity” was an entirely material word. It was about what was going on “under the sun.” More was always better. There was little regard for quality, because what I was measuring was dollars, and there is no “quality” for dollars. It’s about quantity. But now, prosperity is much more about pleasing the Lord. I am prosperous when my life is being lived in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

            My monetary goals change as I grow as a Christian. Before I was a Christian, it was all and only about greed and about keeping score with dollars. The only goal was wealth and it was easy to keep score: He who dies with the most money wins. It was like Monopoly for adults. Since the objective was clear, the means for achieving the objective were clear and few. My peace, my contentment, my feeling of satisfaction, how well I was serving others, and so on were not considerations that deserved much attention.

            Hoarding money, which would have been a potential strategy for achieving my greed goal, reveals fear and distrust. I hoard money because I am afraid that if I don’t, I will not have enough. A hoarder has no confidence or trust in the giver of the goods. A hoarder feels the need to rely upon themselves.

            Saving money can be either a response to fear or an act of wise stewardship, and it can be difficult to detect the difference. If “saving” continues when there is more than ample resources available (Give us THIS DAY our daily bread), saving has become hoarding and it reveals a low level of trust in the Lord.

            Perhaps the action that shows the most spiritual maturity is an attitude of “godly spending.” Money is simply a conduit for bringing good things to others. It must be remembered that money is only good in its use.

GENEROSITY

            We can be generous with our resources because we have been promised prosperity by the God who sovereignly controls the universe. We can be generous because our trust is in the sovereign Lord, who loves us and has given us His promises. We can be generous because the Lord who controls all things makes a distinction between His people and the rest. The LORD delights in His people, and so His people have an enormous advantage. Because we have placed our faith in Christ, we can have confidence in an uncertain world. Faith in Christ entitles me to embrace the Lord’s precious and magnificent promises.

            The beginning of wisdom is THE FEAR OF THE LORD.

            Progress in wisdom flows from TRUST IN THE LORD.

IT IS SAFER TO TAKE RISKS

Because we have already died (Colossians 3:3), we should have no fear of death.

Jesus says that we can never die (John 11:25-26). Thus, what do we have to lose.

The heroes of the Bible consistently take risks because they trust the LORD. Some of these risks are much more than outrageous. Gideon reduced his army from 30,000 to 300. David went up against Goliath with no sword, no shield, and no armor bearer, yet he was victorious because the LORD was with him. In Exodus 14, the LORD commands Moses to put the people of Israel in the place of maximum risk, then the LORD demolished Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.

In Numbers 14, the children of Israel refused to go into the land from Kadesh-Barnea because they feared the people of Canaan. Thus, they rebelled against the LORD and despised His provision. The consequence was that everyone from that generation fell dead in the wilderness wanderings.

Jeremiah was constantly threatened by his peers and by the kings who reigned while he prophesied, yet Jeremiah did not back down or shrink back. He declared, “The LORD is with me like a Dread Champion (Jeremiah 20:11).” If we have that same God giving us the same promises that He gave Jeremiah, why would we be any less bold than Jeremiah? This applies to our entire lives, including our perception of risk.

Finally, the LORD ALWAYS makes a distinction between His people and the rest. The LORD has promised to do us good. Psalm 1:3 gives us the promise that “everything that he does will prosper,” but if nothing is done, how can the LORD prosper the venture?

SDG                 rmb                 9/4/2020

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