“…thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” – Haggai 1:5-6
Under Cyrus, the Jews were allowed to move out of captivity from Babylon and back to Jerusalem. Ezra 3 tells us they began to rebuild the temple, but construction stopped because of opposition and disagreements among the nation. The project was abandoned for 16 years until Haggai and Zechariah showed up on the scene. God would use them to stir up the hearts of the people.
The Jews had returned with joy and began a good work. The Temple represented God’s presence among His people. Just like with many spiritual awakenings, however, it was short-lived, and the work stopped. But why? God gives the answer; “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.” The people were full of excuses and no longer putting God first in their lives. As a result, what they tried to keep was taken away. It never seemed to be enough.
Today, Christ followers show many of the same traits as the nation of Israel here. We are full of excuses, aren’t we? We say, “we don’t have enough to give to the work of the Lord.” But, we make sure our houses have new paint, new furniture, and the yards mowed. We make sure our cars are washed, our 401k’s are funded, and our pensions and social security checks arrive on time because if they do not, we are the first ones to call and complain. We think, “How dare they not pay me what is owed to me!” And even though we take care of all these things, it still never seems like enough.
If you feel that way, maybe God is telling you, like He did with Israel here, to “consider your ways.” The more you try to hold onto, the more God may take from you (see Prov. 3:9-10). Where are your priorities?
“Local churches can’t expand their budgets for world evangelism because the money isn’t there, and yet many church members don’t believe Matthew 6:33 and put God first in their giving. Measured by Third World standards, Christians in the Western world are living in luxury, yet their giving is low, and their debts are high because their wealth is being used for things that really don’t matter.” – Warren Wiersbe