Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This chapter, along with the more famous passage in Malachi 3 about tithing specifically, deals with the whole matter of priorities. It’s not wrong to live in a nice house, as it mentions in verse 4, but it is wrong to forget God and focus on your own comfort and pleasure. That is a perennial problem, and James dealt with it too. “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3) When we are self-centered rather than God-centered, nothing really goes right. It may seem to for a while, but in the final analysis the only thing that really matters is our relationship with our Creator. This particular verse speaks to many people’s personal experience. They do all they can, but never seem to get ahead. That’s because God is trying to get their attention. When you can’t meet your goals, sometimes it’s time to examine your goals! Our fundamental goal needs to be knowing God, hearing and being obedient to Him. When that is firmly in place, everything else falls into line. We need to remember that the devil is always out to steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10) and he does all he can to fix our attention and our appetites on things other than God, knowing that will accomplish his goals. That applies even to legitimate needs! That’s why Jesus said, so famously, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) It all boils down to the focus of our heart.
This is something I’ve experienced abundantly, but still can’t say I have it all down perfectly. As I have written before, it’s been 47 years since Cathy and I decided to tithe first, whatever our finances looked like, and God has been amazingly faithful. God has provided abundantly, often in ways that didn’t interest the tax office. People tend to think we have a very comfortable income, when actually our income is so low we haven’t paid income tax in many years. As an example, I get compliments on clothing that I’ve had for over 20 years! God has given us wisdom and we have very little waste in our lifestyle, so everything goes further. I often deal with people who are struggling financially, sometimes with more income than I have! I seek to help them rearrange their priorities, but all too often they refuse to accept the message. The god of this world has blinded their eyes, because he doesn’t want anybody to have their real needs met and be genuinely happy. (2 Corinthians 4:4) I am not to give up but keep speaking the truth in love, so that people may have a chance to receive the truth and be set free. (John 8:32)
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for showing me how I can share this with the congregation on Sunday. I ask for a good title, since I used “Priorities” just a month ago. I pray that Your truth through me would indeed destroy the lies that bind many, both in this congregation and among those who hear electronically, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!