(3.19.23 Sermon Summary)
By: Pastor Dave Hentschel
What is Risk? The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives a simple summary, defining risk as “the possibility of something bad happening.” The two main issues when it comes to risk are Fear and Control. These two are related. We fear because we lack control, and we try to control, because we’re afraid. However, the Bible teaches us how to deal with both. How do you relate to risk?
Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 is a passage from the Old Testament of the Bible, specifically from the book of Ecclesiastes. The passage encourages readers to embrace generosity and take risks, even in uncertain circumstances. Here is a brief breakdown of each verse:
Verse 1: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” This verse is often interpreted as an encouragement to be generous and to give to others without expecting anything in return. “Bread” is a metaphor for whatever one has to offer, whether it be material goods, money, or kindness. The principle here is to invest with liberality.
Verse 2: “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.” This verse urges readers to be generous to as many people as possible, even beyond what may be expected or required. It acknowledges that disaster and hardship can strike at any time, and that by being generous, one can help to alleviate suffering. The principle here is to invest with diversity. We need to adapt to various contingencies to compensate for our ignorance by preparing for multiple eventualities.
Verse 3: “If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.” This verse uses nature as a metaphor to illustrate the idea that events happen according to their own natural course, regardless of human intervention. It suggests that humans should accept this fact and not worry excessively about things they cannot control.
Verse 4: “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” This verse is often interpreted as an encouragement to take risks and seize opportunities, even when there is uncertainty or risk involved. It suggests that those who hesitate and wait for perfect conditions will never accomplish anything. This leads to a “paralysis of analysis.” The maxim of verse four teaches us that the attempt to plan too meticulously can paralyze initiative.
Verse 5: “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.” This verse acknowledges the mystery of life and the fact that humans cannot fully understand or control the workings of the universe. It suggests that humans should be humble and accepting of their limitations.
This brings us back to fear and control. When it comes to dealing with our lack of control, the bible teaches that this is faced by humbling ourselves. We need to recognize we are not in charge. We can’t manage everything in our lives. To deal with fear, what we have to do is we have to relocate our identity, not in our possessions or in our accomplishments, but only in our relationship with God. Sometimes if we risk and we lose, we see that loss as a statement about or a commentary on our identity. However, it is not. This is what a Christian is. A Christian is someone who says, “God, you are my real asset.” If so, our real assets are never ever in jeopardy.
Verse 6: “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.” This verse encourages readers to be diligent and persistent in their efforts, even when success is uncertain. It suggests that by being proactive and taking action, one can increase the likelihood of success.