“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days,” (Ecclesiastes 1:11)

Have you ever wondered what that verse means? I have. The first half is a phrase used in some social circles and I didn’t get it. So I checked it out a bit.

One thing I did, aside from review the context, was to check out in my Bible some verses that were listed in the margin of Ecclesiastes 11:1 that the editors felt were associated with this verse. My eyes began to open, because a principle began to emerge. I knew about the principle I just didn’t know this verse applied to it. Look:

“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward,” (Matthew 10:42).

“You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand,” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given,” (Proverbs 19:10).

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work,” (II Corinthians 9:7-8).

“And let us not grow weary in well doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith,” (Galatians 6:9-10).

“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, and that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister,” (Hebrews 6:10).

Here’s the principle: You can’t out-give God.

I found the transcript of a sermon by a fellow named Len Riemersma online entitled, “Bread Upon the Waters,” and a few sentences from his message resonated with me especially in relation to this:

“If you have some bread, which is a metaphor for stuff of value, whether it is money or possessions, you should learn to give it away. The picture in the Hebrew language is to have open hands rather than clenched fists. With open hands you give away some of your valued money or possessions. And you don’t just give once or twice but seven even eight times. Generosity is the key. And the reason for casting your bread on water is to let it go. Just toss it out, give it away, be generous without being obsessed where it is going.

“You know how this works. Even if we are generous enough to give we still want to make sure we know everything about where it is going. Did the recipients deserve the gift, are they doing their part, are they a legitimate cause, are they expressing enough thanks, and do they know we are the ones who gave them this gift? It seems our giving has so many strings attached that it isn’t really giving anymore. Solomon says to be generous and give as if you are throwing bread upon the waters. Then he adds, after you do this watch for the blessings. Solomon says, ‘After many days you will find it again.’ This is a beautiful promise. When you give in the true spirit of giving it will come back to you. We have all experienced this. You did something nice and shortly afterwards something unexpectedly happens to bless you.”

I’m sitting here astounded at God’s goodness — again! — because He is a such giving God. He tells us to have a heart open to giving to others and then says, in effect, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back!” Really? God is going to pay me back? And you know Father! He never does anything stingily! Thus the words from Luke 6:38:

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

This blesses me to know that I must learn to give generously, not expecting to be repaid, but knowing that my Father sees and that He will provide for my needs, and then some, as I obey His command to give. And you know what? I think I just experienced it!

I challenge you to consider this principle that is littered through Scripture and focus on practicing it and see what God does! It’s pretty exciting to watch!