Haggai 1:5-6 “Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but 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.”
Fruitless work. Unmet expectations. Best efforts met with frustration. What in the world was going on? That’s the question Israel must have been pondering when the prophet Haggai brought the answer. The people didn’t understand why God wasn’t blessing their labors. He had delivered them from Babylon after years in exile. Now they could go on with their lives. Right? Not exactly. Although they had arrived in Jerusalem, they hadn’t arrived. They failed to see their return was not the end but the beginning…
Sound familiar? Do we, like Israel, suffer from the disease of chronic misplaced priorities? We start well, but how easy it is for us to revert to building our own houses while neglecting the house of God. Or in other words, prioritizing self-interests over the Lord’s. Like Israel, we make all kinds of lame excuses to rationalize doing what we want to do, all the while neglecting what God deems more important.
What do we prioritize over Christ? Our family? Church? Work? Success? The Bible has a name for misplaced priorities…idols. Idolatry comes in all shapes and sizes, but most often revolves around what gives us pleasure or comfort or validation. For most of us idolatry takes the form of good things gone bad—bad because we elevate them to heights that are unsustainable with Christ-centered lives. If God isn’t first, no amount of justification can compensate for worshiping other gods (no matter how good).
But it’s a disease which can be cured. God told Israel, “Give careful thought to your ways.” In his mercy, he let them experience the results of self-focused lives: the discovery that that prioritizing self always proves to be insatiable. There is never enough…enough food, enough drink, enough warm clothing…..
So how about you? Do your purses have holes? If so, maybe it’s time to consider your priorities. Israel repented when they realized their short-sightedness. Thankfully, we can too.