Selfish thrift? But wait, aren’t thriftiness and frugality positive traits? Yes, when used wisely. But not when we hold back what we could give or do. God calls that selfish thrift. Like in the book of Haggai, where he rebuked his people for building their own houses, instead of building his.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.’ Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways,’ Haggai 1:2-5.
And then he went on to explain what their ways were causing. “You plant a lot,” he told them, but have little food. You drink, but are still thirsty. You have plenty of clothes, but can’t keep warm. And your wages go into pockets with holes.” None of their work paid off.
And all because they neglected spiritual things.
The book of Haggai, in some ways, is a picture of living for the kingdom, or the lack of doing so. In Haggai’s time, the people weren’t living for God’s kingdom, but for material and economic progress. So God sent a drought to show them how unstable material things are.
And because we sometimes do just like them, God often sends little warnings to get us back on track. Perhaps not by sending drought, but by allowing hard times in our lives. To make us reflect and see that we’re going astray.
We often think common sense and frugality are wiser than biblical teaching on finances. We think, “After all, how can I get ahead in life by seeking God’s kingdom first?”
And we start thinking that there’s nothing wrong with:
- Placing our personal affairs and the business of life before God’s kingdom.
- Not giving when money is tight.
- Giving higher importance to our personal activities than to church life.
- Neglecting our quiet time with the Lord, because our heart attitude is what really counts.
- Ignoring spiritual principles when they go against common sense.
And this philosophy sometimes does seem to work. We become successful in business, at school, or with whatever we’re trying to do. But if in the midst of all this, we forget to seek God’s kingdom first, we will end up lacking true treasure — the peace and joy that comes with living in and for God’s kingdom.
Where we spend our energies, time, and money shows what we are seeking.
Our priorities reveal whether we are chasing after the world’s perishable treasures, like wealth, success, fame, power, or even self-fulfillment. Or if we are seeking after Christ and his kingdom.
The world’s perishable treasures are mere fleeting, transitory allurements which, in the end, prove to be nothing but empty promises. Wealth can vanish, success disappear. And it takes little to lose our power or position. But the treasures of God’s kingdom are eternal, and bring lasting peace, joy and true satisfaction.
When we seek God’s kingdom first, we find true treasure. And God promises that he will provide all the other things that we need.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life,” Matthew 19:29.
GOD SEEKS A PEOPLE THAT IS DEDICATED TO SEEKING AND BUILDING HIS KINGDOM.
People whose hearts are wholly set aside for, and dedicated to, him. And when he finds such a people, he assures us that his presence and his blessing will be with them.
I’ve seen these principles work in my own life, and I’m sure you have too. I’ve given my last bit of money, and always had more than enough. I’ve lost sleep to spend time with God, and had more productive, alert, and fulfilling days than ever before. I’ve given up houses, lands, family, and friends for his kingdom, and been given given a hundred times as much in this life.
BECAUSE IN GOD’S ECONOMY, THE MORE WE GIVE, THE MORE WE HAVE!