Have you ever landed a new job making more money than you previously were making? With the additional income over time, did you conclude that you were really no better off financially than you were originally? Have you ever heard the expression, "make more, spend more"? Sometimes when people are in an economic crisis the problem is not how much money they are making but rather how they spend what they have.
It is interesting to view how we as Christians utilize the resources God has given us. For example, do you wish you had more time in the day to get everything done? Do you find yourself anxious, stressed, and unable to control the hours in your day? God has given us a 24 hour day and He does not force us to use it a certain way. What I find interesting is that we will take the 24 hours and use it to satisfy our desires, not His. Sometimes we become so stressed that we cry out to God to help us; not realizing that we are being disobedient with the time and resources He has given us.
If you read the prophet Haggai you will find it parallels economic distress to mankind’s disobedience to God. In these verses we see Haggai instructed the people to evaluate their economic situation and to understand that their selfish priorities resulted in their condition. In chapter 1 we see that Haggai challenged the people to evaluate their situation: They had worked hard with little result (1:5–6, 9–10) because God was not a priority in their lives (1:9). God used the drought as a way of getting their attention (1:11).
The Jewish people should have understood that they needed to place their faith and obedience in God as the first priority in life. It was in their teachings that disclosed the results of selfishness and disobedience. In Leviticus 26:18-20 it says:
And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. [The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Le 26:18-20]
The result of not obeying God will result in punishment which can include economic distress. We also see additional Scripture supporting this fact in Deuteronomy 28:38-40 which says:
“You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off." [Ibid. Dt 28:38-40]
Their efforts were not producing the results they had anticipated. Therefore, we can see that there is a connection between obedience to God and fruitfulness. When we are obedient to God our needs will be taken care of. When we are disobedient, God will let us see our need for him and to understand that we are not in control. We cannot, by our own power, completely and sufficiently supply all of our needs.
Does this mean that if we are in God’s will we will be wealthy? If we are in God’s Will our desires will match His desires. Our needs will be met, however, it does not mean that we will have an excessive abundance. Consider James 2:5 which says “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” [Ibid. Jas 2:5]
If being obedient and faithful would place us in a position of material wealth then James 2:5 has some explaining to do. However, when we are in obedience to God then our joy and wealth is found in His provision. It is a state that the Apostle Paul described as being completely satisfied. Remember, Jesus said the following:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." [Ibid. Mt 6:31-34]
Think about this; when we say we do not have enough time in a day to do everything we want, then do we need to re-evaluate our priorities? The answer to that question is absolutely! We need to assure that God is first in our lives. We need to make sure that we are in His will. When this happens, we will find rest in Him.