I have come to love the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Chapter 11, in particular, is a rich tutorial on the principle of sowing and reaping, otherwise known as the Law of the Harvest, or in the vernacular, "What goes around comes around." I have a dear friend who is the embodiment of this principle. She has taught me that if we expect to receive, we must first give. We have to make room for the things we seek before we can receive the new we desire.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 explains, "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth." In other words, put out good, help others, and it will return to you in your hour of need. If you have sown good seeds, then in your moment of crisis, it will return to your rescue in the exact moment that you need it. While spending a day with my friend and mentor,
Leslie Householder, I realized that had I never started SheLovesGod, then in my moment of crisis, this dear friend never would have found me. She held the answers to my prayers, but I never would have received those answers if there had been no SheLovesGod site for her to stumble upon in her hour of need. We simply never would have met. If you don't cast your bread upon the waters, it can't come back to you when you need it most.
Whatever you put out, by eternal law, has to come back to you. Ecclesiastes emphasizes the certainty of this principle with two comparisons, "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be." As surely as heavy clouds send forth rain and as surely as you'll find the tree where it fell, so assuredly will you reap what you have sown.
There is a time to sow and there is a time to reap, but you don't do both at the same time. You can't be certain when or from where you'll reap, but reap you shall. Most likely the person to whom you give, will not be the one to return your kindness. This is where most people trip up. They think they have to get back from the exact person to whom they gave, and that simply isn't the way this law works.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, "He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap." In other words, those who are so preoccupied with only what they can see – their current circumstances – will not put forth the effort to sow or to reap. The fact that they can't see how they're going to benefit will discourage them. So they'll do nothing. Because they will not sow, they cannot reap. Your job is to send out good, and God will take care of the rest. Verse 5 compares the mystery of this principle to a child growing inside a mother's womb: "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all."
God takes what we sow and transforms it into abundance. Just as a tiny been seed yields a plant laden with beans, so the Lord takes our efforts and multiplies them in our behalf. We can never be certain when or where or what seeds we sow will yield a harvest. But verse 6 admonishes us, "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." In other words, cheerfully do all within your power to lift, to build, to help and to serve from morning until evening, because you never know when or how your blessings shall return.
Have you ever spent 10 minutes arguing with a friend about who was going to pay the tip at a restaurant, or over the price of a gallon of milk that you wanted to give her, but she insisted on paying for? If we understood the principle that one cannot give without receiving, we wouldn't quibble over a few dollars. We'd graciously accept what someone wanted to do for us or give us because we'd know that our friend would be blessed over and above what s/he gave. I'm not saying to be a free-loader, nor to let other people pay your way all the time, but if someone insists upon giving you something, then don't deny them the blessing of giving!
When you have something you don't need anymore, give it away, don't sell it. If you sell it, the money will be all you receive in exchange. But if you give it away, it will come back to you in a far greater way. Jesus taught, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6:38)
If you want a new couch, call Salvation Army to pick up the one you have. If you want new clothes, clean out your closet and give the ones you don't wear or that don't fit to a charity. Make room for the things you desire by giving away the old and making room for the new. Don't be afraid that you won't receive. By law you have to. I challenge you to try an experiment. Pick something around your house that you would like to have replaced. Give it away and see what God brings you in its place. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.