For Servants of Grace

You Will Not Complete What You Don't Begin

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Cast your bread upon the waters,  for you will find it after many days.

Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 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.

He who observes the wind will not sow,  and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

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.

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.
— Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

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You Will Not Complete what You Don’t Start


“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4. This certainly paints a picture. When we are trying to decide whether or not to take that job, have that conversation, move to that city, start that process, we can feel consumed with anxiety not knowing whether it is the right call or not. 

Control I seek to have that ends up controlling me. That is how decision making feels sometimes. I don’t know all the variables involved so I circle around a decision trying to look at it from every possible angle, trying to guess the what ifs; to foresee the unforeseeable issues. Deep down inside, beyond discernment what you and I want is a guarantee of success. 

Often what we are really thinking is I will move forward once I know the exact steps to an error-free outcome. Since we have not been given such agency, the activity can be exhausting and fruitless. 

Sometimes as believers we struggle to see the Bible relevant and helpful in the nitty-gritty everyday worldly life we have to live. We may feel the Bible is an archaic book filled with spiritual things that have little to say about regular everyday life. This passage however, says otherwise.


Stewardship is a Call to Action.

The first two verses open with action verbs: cast and give. Interestingly both are outward driven actions. That is, both casting and giving imply parting from something; letting go. The call to cast..



What do you toil for?

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Ecclesiastes 3:9-15, “9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.”

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In 2014 I woke up one day burnt out, suicidal, and hating my life so much I was looking for creative ways to quit it. After months of wrestling with depression and a lot of prayer, I decided to quit my job instead. Unbeknownst to me at the time, with that single action, I would also quit an entire lifestyle and way of seeing myself and others.

The passage opens by posing a question: “What gain has the worker from his toil?” The word “toil” connotes hard labor, struggle, exertion. Essentially, the writer of Ecclesiastes is asking, “What is the point of working so hard?” I don’t think Scripture is taking a stand against hard work, per se. (Proverbs 12:1124Proverbs 13:4Proverbs 14:23.) Instead, the passage is questioning why we work ourselves to the bone.

The question rings personally in a culture like North America, where we’re obsessed with productivity, and being “results-driven” is a valuable skill. We toil to get somewhere, to achieve results we can be proud of, to make a difference, and to get ahead. We toil not just for a paycheck, but to quench a hunger for pursuit, meaning, and self-discovery.


Giving up What I Can't Keep to Gain What I’ll never Lose

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I became a Christian during my freshman year of college through the ministry of Intervarsity. In the fall of 1991, I arrived on campus, excited and ready to learn. My home for the next stage of my education was a prestigious, small, secular liberal arts university.

I came from a Catholic background, where faith was more cultural than personal. So, while my values reflected some familiarity and regard for religion, I had no real  personal investment in it. Unbeknownst to me, the first person I befriended was, a Christian.

Taming the Social Media Beast

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Last year I had an encounter with Scripture that got me thinking about my habits in a whole new way. A reply given by Jesus to the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath invited me to revise my attitude toward the various activities that occupy my energy every day. Particularly towards social media. Not just the amount of time spent there, but more specifically the position of my heart when I use my social-media accounts.


In Mark 2, the Pharisees were appalled to see Jesus and His disciples collect food from a field. The Pharisees saw this as a violation of the commandment to refrain from work on the Sabbath. The reply Jesus gave stopped me in my tracks: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, ESV).


Two important thoughts looped through my thinking over the next few days. First, the notion that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the other way around. This highlights the truth that there are things that were made for me;  i.e. they serve a purpose in my life.The second, is that the passage offered a picture of what it looks like to live for something that in reality had been designed for us. It looked like serving something pointlessly for the sake of building oneself up.


God designed things for me; not the other way around. I was made for God; every other thing is  there for me to use in a way that honors Him.


We Serve It or It Serves Us


The Sabbath helped man position his heart for worship. This mandated day of rest served him by bringing his mind and heart closer to God. It encouraged him to rest and trust the Lord rather than trusting his own efforts because on that day there would rest instead of toil. It renewed him by restoring his energy and slowing down his pace enough for respite.


The Pharisees’ empty obedience turned God’s commandment to rest into a checklist of rules to follow. It was a far cry from its original intended purpose. With this attitude, they served an empty ritual that afforded them no rest and offered them no intimacy with their Creator. They were serving the ritual rather than allowing the ritual to serve them.


As I thought about how the Sabbath was created to serve us, I began to consider my relationship with social media. Who is serving who? Is social media serving me, or am I serving it? The digital age gives us tools that make us feel connected and in the know. Email, video, and the various forms of social media present what feels like endless possibilities to connect. Paradoxically these same tools can challenge our attention, time management, and emotional comfort.


We know, right away it seems, what is happening around us. We learn our friend gave birth to twins a few hours ago. We see our cousin’s new house and the color she’s choosing for the walls. We like, comment, and learn what others like and comment about the things we are engaging with. Both our capacity for connectivity and our need for affirmation are heightened by what social media makes possible.


It can make us feel seen and relevant, or invisible and unimportant. And these cycles keep us coming back for more. Because when we are connected, we want to perpetuate that feeling of connectedness. When we are affirmed and feel seen, we seek to have that again. When we don’t feel it, we go looking for it. Either way, many of us invest considerable time and energy in social media because it supplies something we want. And in the process, we are left feeling charged or drained. What determines either resulting state? This is where the words of Jesus resonate eye-opening Truth.


I realized that much of how I was handling social-media was essentially me serving it. What I serve owns me. And my misuse of social-media owned my time and determined my mood. I went to social-media for what only God can supply. We want to feel relevant. We want to be affirmed. We want to be seen and be heard. We want to be praised. These are all natural things to want. But if use our digital time to feed these needs, rather than our Creator, then we are letting it use us. We attempt to fill up the empty places in our lives, one square, status update, or tweet at a time.


Like most things at our disposal, social-media is neither evil nor holy. We can make it a tool to use for a good purpose as much as a liability to our spiritual and emotional health.

Here are three practical ways to help us use social media with discernment and wisdom, and prevent it from becoming a distraction that consumes our time. To that end, I want us to see social media as a tool to steward for the glory of God in Christ who alone brings genuine satisfaction our souls crave.

Treating It like a Tool: 3 Practices


A tool implies there is a function to fulfill in a job that needs doing. Scripture informs me that I was made for God. To know, enjoy, and serve Him (Deuteronomy 11:131 Samuel 12:24Psalm 119:10John 12:261 Corinthians 15:58.  That is who I was made for.  What use I give them can mark the difference between life-giving and life-draining. Because I can end up looking in it for what only God whom I was made for can give me.


Over the past year I’ve practiced fasting from social-media one day a week. I also came up with a list to help me take inventory to gauge my heart’s emotions and expectations, which I revisit periodically to keep my heart in check. And, more recently I’ve also stopped and prayed for others. Let me unpack these: