One of the wisest and richest men of all times opens up the treasures of his wisdom for us in Ecclesiastes. For the past few days I’ve been admiring three of these gems from chapter 11.
Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2)
Two things strike me from this first passage: first, if we want a return we must take risks. Imagine the context in which this was written. The merchant placing his grain on a ship did so knowing he might lose it all; or, he might gain a handsome profit. But without sending his grain off on the ship, he would never know. We must take risks to receive a return.
This passage also contains the balance to that risk. Diversify investments. Or from the standpoint of the entrepreneur, invest in multiple streams of income. This warns against the “all eggs in one basket” approach.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
This verse hits human nature between the eyes. There will always be plenty of excuses—a multitude of reasons—why we shouldn’t venture out. If we keep our eyes on those reasons, as convincing as they appear to be, we will never take the first step. Rather than focusing on circumstances and all the reasons why we can’t do something, we need to hunker down and do it. “Fortune favors the bold.”
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
Be diligent. Persevere. Work hard. We are so fixated on success, that we often fear attempting something that might fail. And if it does fail, we think we have failed—that we’re a failure. But there are many ventures in life for which there is no guarantee—most, in fact. But one thing is sure—if we don’t sow, we won’t reap—period.
Behind these gems of wisdom there’s a prevailing theme in Ecclesiastes that instructs us to trust God. He loves us and provides for us. All we have comes from Him. He is there to comfort and encourage us when our ventures fail.
When God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. (Ecclesiastes [5:19])
© Rob Fischer