My House, Or Yours?

Give careful thought to your ways. 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” —Haggai 1:6, NIV.

Two short chapters, that’s the Book of Haggai. It only goes to prove that you don’t need a lot of words to say a lot, as contradictory as that may sound!

The issue in Haggai’s day was the devotion of the people to building and beautifying their own homes while the temple lays in ruins (1:4).

Transported to New Testament, post-Pentecost times, we know that the physical building called “church” is not the issue (though we shouldn’t leave that in ruins either!). Believers are, says Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16: “...the temple of the living God,” as he warns his listeners not to allow anything or anyone to distract them from a life of righteousness.

Haggai’s message is a call to look at life realistically. Why is it that, no matter how much they tried to fill the gaps, their lives remained, at their core, empty?

Having suggested the question, the Lord gave the answer: “‘You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I BLEW AWAY. Why?’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I CALLED for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor or your hands’” (1:9-11, NIV, emphasis mine).

Several times in these two short chapters we are told to “give careful thought.” Near the end of the book the Lord suggests again the question “Why?” when he repeats: “I STRUCK all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me” (2:17, NIV, emphasis mine).

I was hit by a practical application as I read these verses. Yesterday I picked up at book at the library which I had reserved some time ago. Because there is a waiting list I have to have the book read in two weeks. Since it is around 1,000 pages in length, I have to read LOTS in the next few days. So last night, I read through about 200 pages. When was the last time I read 200 pages of the Bible at one sitting? I spend a lot of time on the physical and material “house,” represented by that book, but I wasn’t (and am not) even an “equal-opportunity” reader.

Ah, but you say, no one wants THAT book back at the end of two weeks!

True, but I still spend more time pursuing all kinds of other interests at the expense of looking after, maintaining, and improving my spiritual “house.” If we are going to be truly honest with ourselves, we soon discover that all those other things that we invest our time, energy, and resources in, may bring us a temporary “fix” but they don’t result in permanent satisfaction.

And God tells us that He’ll make sure they don’t. He will send blight, mildew, and want to our lives until we finally figure out what our priorities should be. What is true for individuals is true for our churches because we ARE that church. If our spiritual houses are in a state of decay, so is the assembly of believers, of which we are a part, affected by that decay.

The question deserves “careful thought.” Personally, I don’t like mildew on any level. If I work furiously hard to rid my belts and leather purses of it, why don’t I work just as hard to deal with what causes spiritual mildew in my life?


  1. Oh - thought provoking AND convicting! Gotta watch where my attention is. Thanks, Lynda.


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