It’s not a hard ask if the answers are good. Digging deep works fine if you’re pretty sure you’re gonna uncover gold. But going introspective can be risky if you’re not sure you’re gonna like what you find. Or, worse yet, you’re not sure God’s gonna like what you find. So there’s a sense of foreboding as I chew on Haggai’s repeated command this morning.
Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 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. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD.
(Haggai 1:5-8 ESV)
The work on rebuilding the temple had stalled. Their focus had shifted. The going had gotten tough and they had got going–each to building their own homes and tending to their own affairs. Their priority had shifted from God’s glory to their own good. The labors were spent on that which provided very little return while the house of the Lord remained in ruins. So five times in Haggai’s short letter he exhorts the people to consider.
Consider. Take a breath and look around. Give careful thought to your ways (NIV). Look at what’s happening (NLT). Take a good hard look (MSG). Set your heart to know your heart.
Hard ask if you’re not sure what to do with the awareness. Or, worse yet, if you know what to do with it but you’re not sure you can.
Wasn’t really sure I wanted to hover over this too long. No doubt it’s a command to obey . . . .but maybe tomorrow.
And then this jumped off the page:
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
(Haggai 2:4-5 ESV)
Consider your ways and then be strong. Consider your ways and then work it out. Consider your ways and fear not. For I am with you according to promise, says the Lord. My Spirit stands fast in your midst. He will not cease to hold His ground among you.
That’s how we take the risk of going internal. That’s how we deal with whatever we find when we dig deep. Believing the promise. Trusting in His presence.
Whatever we find is no surprise to the Father. What needs to be done about it has already been accomplished by the Son. And the path forward is empowered by the Spirit who remains in our midst.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation. Salvation past, when our former transgressions were forgiven through the finished work of the cross, and salvation present, as we are increasingly freed from the power of sin through the abiding Spirit within us and the unchanging promise that the work He has begun in us He will finish in us (Php. 1:6).
And the gospel is the power because “in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Rom. 1:17). The righteousness of God imputed by faith. The righteousness of God imparted by faith. Having been declared righteous in Him, He has determined that we should made righteous through Him. Conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
Not that it’s a straight line. Way too many detours and distractions along the way. But along the way He continues to call us to take the risk of considering our ways so that He might continue to remind us of the truth of His promise, and to show us the reality of His presence, as He redeems and redirects our ways.
Be strong. Work, for I am with you. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
The exhortation of grace. That He alone might receive the glory.
Be strong in the Lord and the power of his might! Amen.