“Now therefore, 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).
How foolish would it be to keep putting your money, which you had labored to earn, into your pocket knowing that your pocket had holes in it? It would be far wiser to first repair the holes in your pocket before you continue to put any more money into it.
As the opening verses above indicate, during the ministry of Haggai the prophet, God challenges His people to “Consider your ways…” because they were earning wages and putting them into a “bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6). Haggai ministered to God’s people following their return to the Promised Land after they had endured the Babylonian captivity. They had come back following the decree of Cyrus, King of Persia, to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem which had been destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:8-10; Ezra 1:1-4).
However, following their return to Jerusalem, God’s people had become distracted with doing other things and had failed to follow through with rebuilding God’s temple. In fact, 16 years had passed and God’s temple was still not finished. Why? The people were busy rebuilding their own lives and their own houses and had neglected the work of God. Through Haggai, God asks, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" (Haggai 1:4).
Because of their neglect in doing the work of God to rebuild His temple, God had brought curses and not blessing upon His people’s efforts to enrich themselves: “ ‘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. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands’ " (Haggai 1:9-11).
After being rebuked for what they had done, the people of God begin rebuilding the temple (Haggai 1:12-15). Following their repentance, God promises to restore His blessings upon the people: “Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid--consider it: Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you" (Haggai 2:18-19).
As I consider these events from the ministry of Haggai, I am reminded I need to “consider my ways”. It is so easy in life to get distracted in “making a living” that I fail to make a meaningful life with God. Today, as I consider my ways, I will strive to place my service to God and prioritize the things I need to do to maintain and grow my relationship with Him (e.g. by prayer and Bible study) above the material things that may temporarily appeal to my eye or ego.
“ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’ ” (Malachi 3:10).