25 June 2020 - Do good and act when you can, because God is in control.

Daily Devotion 25th June
Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Do good and act when you can, because God is in control.

“Cast your bread upon the waters for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth” (v1-2). These verses encourage us to do as much good as we can. “Casting” describes the act of throwing bread in large amounts, reaching out as far as possible. The “bread” represents goodness or “seeds”, meaning God’s word. We are encouraged to cast it far and wide even-though we may not see a return for our investment after a long time. Some good deeds or seeds may take root and return a harvest, some may not. We may not always be thanked or rewarded for what we have done, but we should continue to sow in faith. We are encouraged to have a generous heart, even if we face uncertainty in the future. This is because we are assured that the reward will certainly come according to God’s timing. God will help us to do good, because He is good, His loving kindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5).

“If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie” (v3). These verses demonstrate man’s inability to change or control many things. Pouring rain may represent challenges or disasters (mentioned in v 2) that may come in our lives, for there is no guarantee of a life without problems. Storms will come. We cannot stop the rain or change the direction that a tree falls. In many regards, we are powerless. However, this should not stop us from doing good when we can, because we do not know when our days on earth will end. Sickness or tragedy may prevent us from doing what we should have done a long time ago. Our life is in God’s hands because only He is in complete control of our future. We can only control our own attitudes and how we choose to act in the present time.

“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (v4). A person who pays too much attention to the circumstances and who chooses to wait for the “right” conditions before he will act, will always put things off. This verse urges us to do good while we have the opportunity and to stop making excuses. Do you recognize any of these thoughts? “I will help/invest in that person when I have more free time, when I can take leave, when my kids grow up, when I retire, when I feel like it.” Or these; “I will contribute to this when I feel happier, when I am/feel richer, when people are nice to me, when my spouse/boss/care group leader/pastor/God is nicer to me, when things are better for me, when I no longer have any other problems or responsibilities, when I have nothing better to do...” Or this one that’s a real gem, “I’ll do it another time because I want to have a good time myself first”. This verse tells us that if we put off sowing, we will also fail to reap the reward. Since we reap what we sow (Galatians 7:9), it also follows that we cannot reap that which we failed to sow. We cannot reap a harvest if we have not sowed the seed. We cannot reap a good relationship if we have not sowed kindness, time and love into it. We cannot reap success in education or in work if we have not earnestly put in effort and diligence. We are unlikely to reap salvation if we do not sow God’s love into others. Yes, God is good and in all things He works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Nevertheless, we are responsible for our own attitudes and actions. We need to act when we need to and when the opportunity arises. For we do not know when we will no longer be able to do so.

“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (v5). God’s ways are mysterious and He is all- powerful. As humans we do not understand how everything works, but we have confidence that God is in control. Just as we understand that a woman can conceive and then give birth to a fully formed baby who developed unseen in her womb. We do not know all of God’s ways but we know that He is undeniably real.

“In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good (v6). This verse is about faithfulness. It encourages us to work diligently day and night. We should not be idle and tire of doing good. Similarly, we should not take “faith breaks”. We are instructed to sow seed daily. To withold our hand could be to deprive someone (or ourselves) from the blessing that God intends. We do not fully know where our investment will bear fruit, whether some or all of our efforts will come good. But we are not to worry about this. Our role is to keep going in faith and to trust God that He is with us and His hand is upon us.

Suggested prayer: Almighty God, help me to live my life joyfully with full confidence in your goodness and love in my life. Help me to show goodness and loving kindness to my family, friends, church family, colleagues, and to the people I will meet through life. Give me a generous heart and wisdom to act when I should. I am sorry for the times I have not acted as I should have, or for the times when I failed to show goodness to others. Help me to act faithfully and to sow diligently from now on. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen