Do you know what it means to "cast your bread upon the waters?"

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth" (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2).

The phrase is meaningful to a person who has fished. If you invest some of what you have to feed the fish in the pond, after a while you gain more than the value of the bread used back in the form of fish to eat.

Solomon takes that basic image as an illustration for life.

If a person consumes all that they have, there won't be anything available in the future when there is a sudden downturn in fortune. I know a number of people who live from paycheck to paycheck. They are just like a person who eats all the bread they have available to them. They live well for the moment, but disaster is just around the corner and there is nothing in reserves.

Instead, we are urged to invest in the future by giving away a portion of what we have, even when it might appear that we will not receive an immediate return.

Take a bit of what you have and generously give it to others. At the moment it might not impact you greatly. After all, how much more does it take to feed eight than it does to feed seven? Yet, we don't know what the future holds. There might come a time when you or I will need help and someone who benefited from our generosity earlier is now in a position to help us out.

This is also a suggestion not to invest in just one place. Give to seven or eight. In other words, spread things around because we do not know what the future might hold.

See also:

Planning for Uncertainties
Questions and Answers regarding Terminology
Questions and Answers regarding Money Matters