November 23, 2021
“The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house (of the Lord).”
“The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house (of the Lord). Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord. “You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why?’ This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.” Haggai 1:7-9
The Bible has much to say about giving. My personal tendency is to give only when I have ample access to money. It reminds me of the Bob Dylan song, “Like A Rolling Stone.”
“Once upon a time, you dressed so fine. You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?” Bob Dylan
It is harder to be generous when times are lean when you are the bum begging for a dime. Still, the Bible commands and exhorts us to give (regardless of the abundance of our wealth), so I do. God is more concerned with the abundance of your faith than the size of your offering. (Mark 12:41-44)
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
Somehow, the Lord has always provided abundantly when I have been obedient. When I have withheld my giving, it was as if He withheld His blessing because I would begin sinking financially. Although many followers of Jesus can say “Amen!” to what I have shared, how and when God provides for us is still a great mystery for many others. I do not believe God’s faithfulness can be truly understood until we are faithful to obey God in this matter.
“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25
Today’s passage is not just a story about ancient Israel. The Lord is using Haggai to speak to us, as well. On average, 20% of church attendees provide 80% of the finances needed for their local ministry. Does that mean 80% of all Christians live below the poverty level? Absolutely not! It means that 80% of church attendees are more concerned with building their own houses than God’s Kingdom! (See also: Luke 21:1-4)
Where do you fit into that 80/20 split? As we move toward finishing the TANAKH (Old Testament), let’s remember to faithfully worship the God Who provides instead of worshipping the provision of God.