We live today, so we are told, in an age of rampant materialism. An era in which everyone is always grasping after the newest gadget, the latest fashion, the most up-to-date model. It is difficult to argue with such an assessment. Sadly it seems all too justified when we read and hear of the dreams of would-be lottery winners and what they would do with their millions in winnings. But, is the phenomenon as new as we sometimes make it out to be. The book of Haggai suggests not.
‘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 he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. (Haggai 1:6,9) ESV
Reading through Haggai, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were reading a socio-economic analysis of this country today; such are the similarities in its tone. The technology and resources at our disposal may be far greater than those in Haggai’s time, but the underlying cravings are no different. Greed, materialism – call it what you will –is an age-old and probably universal characteristic. Yet, the irony is that it rarely seems to bring happiness, indeed all too often, the reverse is true. Creature comforts have their place, as I am sure Haggai would be the first to accept, but if these are put before our spiritual needs, then the result is a never-ending striving for an inner fulfillment that will remain forever tantalizingly just out of our reach. As Matthew’s gospel reminds us, ‘Don’t be anxious, saying, ‘what will we eat?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ But seek first the kingdom and righteousness of God, and you shall be given all of these in addition. (Matthew 6:31a, 33)
What comes first in your life? Where does God rank in your list of priorities? Does the way you live lend support to your answer?
Perhaps this could be your prayer this week?
Lord Jesus Christ, go with me now and help me to walk the way of discipleship. Equip me with the faith to offer my life to you, focusing on the things that really matter, and so may I discover life in all its fullness. In your name, I pray. Amen (Nick Fawcett)
Shalom to you, my friend.