Is it too early to start making New Year resolutions? Maybe. Is it too early to start thinking about them? Maybe not.
Decembers, as a month, has a way of being a catalyst for a lot of stuff. It drives some into a material frenzy . . . shop ’till you drop . . . wheel to get the deal . . . spend likes there’s no end. For others it creates a lot of anxiety . . . seems troubles are magnified during this season of “peace on earth, goodwill towards men” . . . family tensions, if they existed, become greater . . . problems become more depressing . . . the focus is often on just getting through “the season”. And, for some, it ignites the advent countdown . . . flames the fire of wonder and awe concerning “God with Us” . . . captures again our hearts with adoration and thanksgiving . . . O Come Let Us Adore Him!
But there’s at least one more thing December has a way of fueling. Because it’s the homestretch of another year, as we work our way through the days of the last page of our calendar, it often is a time of reflection. Where’s the year gone? What’s been accomplished? What’s ahead? As, such, December is not a bad time of year to read Haggai.
Five times in the prophet’s short, two-chapter letter, written to those who had returned after the captivity, God says to His people, “Consider. Consider your ways . . . consider now from this day forward . . . consider it!” (Haggai 1:5, 1:7, 2:15, 2:18)
The NIV says, “Give careful thought” . . . the NLT, “Look at what’s happening” . . . and Peterson’s take in the MSG is “Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over.” Literally it has the idea of setting one’s heart on one’s ways.
God had brought them back from exile to rebuild His temple, instead they rebuilt their houses. He asked them to raise His earthly dwelling place from the ruins, instead they put nice siding on their homes. He had promised to meet their needs if they would be about His business, instead they were frustrated farmers getting no cooperation from the weather as they sought to meet their own needs. And so God says, “Consider . . . give careful thought . . . take a look around . . . think!”
And they were not to just think about where they had been . . . or just about what they were doing (or not doing) . . . but the prophet says, “Think ahead, too!” “Be strong,” says the Lord, “I am with you . . . according to the word that I covenanted with you . . . so My Spirit remains among you, do not fear!” (Hag. 2:4-5) In light of what God had promised . . . in view of what they knew to be true concerning Him and His plans . . . remembering is promise to dispel all fear through His abiding presence . . . they were to give careful thought to how they were investing the time here and now in light of there and then.
Yup, in many ways December is a gift. A great time to bless others with a little of the material blessing we’ve known . . . a time to worshipfully focus on God’s gift to us . . . and a time to take stock. A time to ask myself if I’ve been about the business God wants me to be about . . . to check priorities and make sure they’re aligned . . . to be honest if I’m settling for what’s good and not pursuing what’s best. It’s a time to remember the promises of God . . . those fulfilled in the Babe in the manger . . . those concerning His presence and help for the present time . . . and those which speak of a future of which we can only imagine.
It’s a good time to think . . . amen?