The True Workman
Ecclesiastes 11:4
He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap.

The idea of the text is that something must be endured, and something must be dared, if we mean to achieve anything of any account. If a man wants to sow, he must not mind being assailed by the wind while he is at work; or if he wants to reap, he must not stay indoors because it threatens to rain. We must be ready to endure, we must be prepared to run risks, if we have any thought of taking rank among the successful workers of our time. God does not give his bounties to those who will only walk the road when it is perfectly smooth and sheltered; nor does he permit us to win triumphs if our heart misguides us at the sight of difficulty or danger. Success is for those, and those only, who can brave wind and rain in the open field of labor, in the wide spheres of usefulness.

I. THE FACT, AS OUR EXPERIENCE TESTIFIES. Everything that is done which is really worth doing is wrought with trouble, with some measure of difficulty and of risk, with the possibility or likelihood of failure, with struggle and some degree of disappointment - e.g., the little child in learning to walk and to talk; the boy in mastering his lesson or even his game, or in finding and taking his place in the schoolroom and the playground; the student in acquiring his knowledge, and in facing and passing his examination; the tradesman and merchant in making their purchases unit investing their money; the author in writing and printing his book; the statesman in planning and submitting his measure, etc. In all these, and in all such cases, we have to contend with adverse "winds" that blow upon us; we have to "put our foot down" firmly on the ground; we have to run the risk of unpleasant "rains," of falling and of failure. It is the constant condition of human endeavor.

II. THE BENEFICENT RESULT. This is not to be regretted; on the contrary, we may be thankful for it. It develops human character; it calls forth and strengthens all that is best within us.

1. It nourishes fortitude - a commendable capacity to endure; a readiness to accept, unmoved and untroubled at heart, whatever may befall us.

2. It creates and sustains courage - a deliberate determination to face the evil that may possibly await us.

3. It contributes to true manliness - the power to do and to endure anything and everything as Gad may will, as man may want. We pity those whose field of work, whose path of life, is unvisited by adverse winds and unpleasant rains. If they do grow up into strong and brave souls, it will be in spite of the absence of those circumstances which are most helpful in the formation of character. We have no condolence for those who have to face the strong wind and the rain; we congratulate them that they are placed where the noblest characters are shaped.

III. ITS LESSON FOR THE CHRISTIAN WORKER. Too often the workman in the Master's vineyard is inclined to lay down his weapon when the clouds gather in the heavens. But to act thus is not worthy of him. Not thus did he who "bore such contradiction of sinners against himself." Not thus have the worthiest of his disciples done - they who have done the most, and have left behind them the most fragrant memories. Not thus will they have acted who receive the gladdening commendation of their Lord "in the day of his appearing" Not thus shall we finish the work our Father has given us to do. Let the strong winds of even an unkindly criticism blow, let the dark cloud of possible failure show itself in the horizon, we will not be daunted; we will go forth to sow the good seed of the kingdom, to reap its precious harvest. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

WEB: He who observes the wind won't sow; and he who regards the clouds won't reap.

Sowing in the Wind; Reaping Under Clouds
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