Haggai 1:2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: 4 Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house (God’s house – the temple in Jerusalem) lies in ruins? 5 Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.
There is a bit of snark in this passage from Haggai. It’s as though God is asking via the prophet Haggai, “How’s that working out for you?” a la Dr. Phil. Implicit answer? Not well.
Jerusalem had been defeated and lay in ruins while God’s people were sent to Babylon in exile. When the people are finally allowed to return to Jerusalem, some 70 years later, they first built houses of their own before getting on with the business of rebuilding the temple of the Lord. This is the mistake that is pointed out in our passage. In essence, the people put themselves first – and suffered for it.
6 You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you … earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.
The lesson? If the people would serve the Lord first, the Lord would take care of their needs much better than they have been providing for themselves. So what does this mean for you and me?
If we will put the Lord first, and ourselves second, we will do much better than the other way around.
There are two very practical and profound ways you can live out this principal:
- Time – It’s normal these days for people to be short of time. There’s never enough it seems. However, when we spend the FIRST part of our day in prayer, scripture study, and reflection, the Lord gives us grace to be far more effective and fruitful than if we put time with God LAST. Seriously. You should try it, if you’re not already doing it.
- Money – It’s also normal these days for people to be short on cash. I speak with many Christians who say they would like to give more to the Lord via a tithe (10%) of their income, but their financial situation won’t allow for it. They think that, when their financial situation improves, their giving will grow. In fact, it’s the other way around. The faith of giving FIRST will result in improved finances. No kidding. You should try it.
As we come toward the end of the year, many people will make New Year’s resolutions. What if you made it your resolution to put God first, placing your trust in the Lord to provide for your needs – rather than yourself? This is what the prophet Haggai was teaching God’s people thousands of years ago. The offer still stands. Today. For you.
Heavenly Father, we are a people that is used to depending on ourselves for our own needs. It’s what a secular world teaches us every day. Give us grace to entrust ourselves to you, especially our time and our money. For, in so doing, we will be tapping into the abundant reality of your Kingdom. And we will be blessed along with those we love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.