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Do not put off for tomorrow, what you can do today

Ecclesiastes 11:1-10

Do not put off for tomorrow, what you can do today

‘If’ and ‘When’ were planted, and ‘Nothing’ grew.

T

Read chapter 11:1-10

he Qoheleth is calling the reader to action. The emphasis is in the doing. Wishing and hoping will not achieve anything. Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin. Putting off for tomorrow what is scheduled for today, will only compound the volume of tasks for that day. Procrastination is a form of compounding interest, though not as desirable as interest gained in monetary dealings.

The long arm of procrastination Procrastination has the potential to penetrate every aspect of our life. The Qoheleth wants to provoke us to generosity, be that with our finances or material goods, and not to put it off, for we do not know what tomorrow will bring (1-2). The principle that drives his statement is one of sowing and reaping. If we do


Ecclesiastes a Reflection on Life – Kaleidoscope of Thoughts

not sow generously of what we have, when we find ourselves in need, help may not be forthcoming. Do not wait for the right circumstances to be generous; be spontaneous in generosity, even intentional. “Cast your bread upon the waters” may be paraphrased, “Send out your grain in ships.” Solomon was involved in various kinds of trade, so this maritime illustration would have resonated with him (1Kg.10:15, 22). It would be months before the ships returned with precious cargo; but when they did, the merchant’s faith and patience was rewarded. 1 He had faith that the money he spent for the goods ordered, would find their way to him. Giving, in the same way, walks with the assurance that the reward from God, will follow.

Transient lifecycles His nature metaphors emphasize the temporality of lifecycles and the purpose of them in the created order. The clouds serve the purpose of dropping water on the earth. This cycle serves to water gardens and fields. Watering the seeds planted, produces food for the sower; that is its purpose. Then the clouds disappear. All creation exists within timeframes; nothing exists forever. The oldest tree in existence said to be the Methuselah tree, a 4,800-year-old Great Basin Bristlecone pine, located in Methuselah Valley,

1

Wiersbe, 1996: 19.


Do not put off for tomorrow, what you can do today

Nevada, 2 will inevitably die one day (3). That is the way of all life in a fallen world. Predicting the timing when the clouds will drop much needed rain with 100% accuracy, or the volume it will disperse, is impossible. When and which way the tree falls is unpredictable, only the knowledge that one day it will. Therefore, be generous today, for tomorrow there may not be the opportunity. Tomorrow we may be in lack, therefore, live an unselfish life. We are to be a blessing to others, in stark contrast to the foolish rulers in the preceding chapter.

Over-caution paralyses The next picture the Qoheleth paints is of a farmer who watches the wind, waiting for the opportune time to sow his seed (4). He fears every indication of bad weather, and alters his plans at each change in the sky. His preoccupation with the possibility of violent winds, which will blow away the seeds sown, prevents him from sowing seed, and ultimately reaping a harvest. This can be detrimental in an agricultural community. The Qoheleth’s point is that, one who tries to foresee the future and prepare for every contingency will inevitably miss golden opportunities. 3 Opportunities do not always come wrapped in perfect circumstances. Life is an 2 3

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/plants/news-oldest-living-things-earth. Smith, 1996: Ecc.11: 4.


Ecclesiastes a Reflection on Life – Kaleidoscope of Thoughts

adventure and often we must launch out by faith, even when the circumstances seem adverse (5a). 4 Seize the opportunities as they present themselves. Being over cautious can be paralysing. Many things in life are a mystery and unpredictable. The wind is unpredictable. Life growing in the womb is a mystery (5b). If we are going to wait until we are 100% sure what God wants us to do, and 100% sure when He wants us to do it, we may end up sitting around for quite some time. Unfortunately, that is not evidence of faith. Faith is stepping into the river and getting our feet wet, and then the miraculous opportunities follow, as with Joshua (Josh.3-4). Do not be like that farmer waiting for the wind to change. There is no excuse for sitting around doing nothing. Get out and sow seed in the morning and in the evening, as one does not know which one will result in a harvest (6). Get moving and intensify efforts. We cannot guarantee good results, but we increase our chances if we are diligent and make the most of the opportunities that come our way. There is nothing more tragic than looking back on life and seeing it as a series of missed opportunities and thinking, ‘If only I had done this or that’. Do what we have to do, do what we can do, and do it now. 5 In the above two metaphors, one from maritime trade (1-2) and one from farming (3-4, 6) the Qoheleth urges people toward constant, 4 5

Wiersbe, 1996: 19. Davidson, 1986: 80.


Do not put off for tomorrow, what you can do today

diligent effort, and prudent diversified investment of their energies and resources, all the while recognizing that everything is in God’s sovereign control. 6

Appreciate what you have Qoheleth frames his motivation for enjoying life against the assertion of guaranteed darkness. The Qoheleth wants us to enjoy life, though brief, highlighted by the ‘light’ metaphor, because the duration of time that one is dead, highlighted by the ‘darkness’ metaphor is far longer (7-8). To the Qoheleth everything that matters happens here and now, the concept of living eternally in heaven is not a consideration for him. In the end for him, all that we do in life and everything that happens in life will disappear like a vapour. Nevertheless, this does not mean that life should not be enjoyed. He does not recommend following one’s heart with reckless abandon, with no consideration of the consequences of one’s action (9). To the young he encourages them to enjoy the journey of life. Use their youthful energy wisely and be good stewards of their time and energy, knowing that they too are accountable for what they do before God. He concludes stating that the inevitability of death should not be a ‘wet blanket’ on enjoying our life, nor should it be a licence to be reckless (10). The days of youth and

6

Walvoord, et. al., 1985: Ecc.11:5-6.


Ecclesiastes a Reflection on Life – Kaleidoscope of Thoughts

vitality are few, so appreciate what you have for you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Life is to be lived and lived to the full, procrastination and recklessness prevents that. The reality for us post-cross is that our actions will resonate in eternity. Therefore, be good stewards of time and energy and live intentionally. Be generous with what we have, and do all things to God’s glory.

Food For Thought What areas in my life am I procrastinating? What strategy can I implement in my life to prevent continuing on in this cycle? As I reflect on the account of Joshua 3-4, what does his experience contribute to my understanding of walking in faith? What is my prayer in relation to the things that God is highlighting to me?

If you would like to purchase the entire book of insights and reflections from the Qoheleth, please go to: Lulu Publishing http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/staley2atbigponddotnetdotau

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