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“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” (Haggai 1:6).

DESPITE OUR DILIGENCE IN THIS WORLD, SOMETIMES IT SEEMS THE RESULTS OF OUR WORK ARE NOT COMPLETELY SATISFACTORY. In our more honest moments, we recognize the existence of yearnings and aspirations that show no signs of going away. This is true collectively (in societies), and also personally (in individuals).

In Haggai 1:6, God used the analogy of a man putting his wages into “a bag with holes.” This man may believe in the power of positive thinking, but if his bag has holes in it, pouring more coins into it is going to be futile. And it is God who determines whether any particular bag will have holes in it or not. It is simply not within our power to reach every goal we set (James 4:13–16). At any time, God can withhold the profit we intended from our goals (putting holes in our bags), so that, despite our energy and optimism, we are left with the feeling that we didn’t really get what we were after.

Now think carefully. What is true of specific activities in life is also true of life in general. When mankind rebelled against Him, God subjected the world to “futility” (Romans 8:20,21). That is, God set limitations that would prevent the human race from controlling everything it wanted to control, and having everything it wanted to have. These limitations should be a constant reminder of man’s need for God. The fact that, in this world, our “bag” will always have “holes” in it does not mean that God is cruel. Rather, He lets us experience this earthly unsatisfaction in order to draw us back to Him.

In Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses reminded Israel about the hunger God had allowed them to suffer in the wilderness: “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

The sooner we grasp this point, the sooner we’ll be ready for the gospel. It will be a huge step forward when we come to see the human race — and ourselves — as being empty rather than full.

“We are all beggars, each in his own way” (Mark Twain).

Gary Henry — +

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