The Poor Man's Portion
Ecclesiastes 11:1
Cast your bread on the waters: for you shall find it after many days.

I. THE DUTY RECOMMENDED. In general it is, to do good with our property. It is the glory of true religion that it inspires and inculcates a spirit of benevolence. Christ went about doing good.

1. That with which we do good must be our own. "Cast thy bread." As there are some who withhold more than is meet, so there are others who, from ostentation, give what is not their own.

2. We are to do good liberally. "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight." It is a great, obstacle to many, and a Common objection, that cases are so numerous.

3. For the sake of doing good we should deny ourselves. "Thy bread." It is a notion of many that they are required to give only superfluities; but this is treating God and the poor with only a dog's portion — the crumbs, as it were, which fall from their table. Emulate the Churches of Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8.), whose deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality.

4. We are to do good, notwithstanding discouraging appearances in Providence. Give as the Lord hath prospered you, and leave another day or another year to take care for itself.

II. The motives by which this duty is enforced.

1. The reward which awaits you. "Thou shalt find it again." What, we do for the poor is not, thrown away, though it may seem to be so. It is sowing the seeds of immortality, and, if done right, we shall find it, though it may be "many days" first. God so orders it, that merciful men meet with mercy in this life, and their children after them (Psalm 112:20); and who knows what ours may need? Or, if we never find it here, we shall find it in a dying hour, and still more at the judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). Yea, it will add to our joy hereafter, else it could not be called "laying up treasure in heaven."

2. The impending ills that threaten us. "Thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth." Covetousness would turn this to another use: "We know not what we shall want; we must every one look to himself." No! that which you now possess may be taken from you: foes may consume it, floods may sweep it away, enemies may invade it, or internal changes may strip you of your all. Do good while you have it, in your power — by and by you may be unable.

3. The design of God in affording us what we have — not that it may be hoarded, but communicated. "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth." Inanimate nature is brought in to provoke us. We are but stewards after all, and must give account of our stewardship.

4. The near approach of death, when all our opportunities will be for ever at an end.

(A. Fuller.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

WEB: Cast your bread on the waters; for you shall find it after many days.

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