Together in Christ: 'A Bag with Holes in It' — Micah 6:11-14

Thursday, March 14, 2024

[The Lord said to the people in Jerusalem:] "How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights? The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.

"Therefore, I will wound you! I will bring you to ruin for all your sins. You will eat but never have enough. Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain. And though you try to save your money, it will come to nothing in the end. You will save a little, but I will give it to those who conquer you."

— Micah 6:11-14 NLT

Key Thought

Over the last several days, our devotionals on relationships have emphasized God's importance in maintaining justice and caring for the vulnerable, weak, and abandoned people around us. These themes don't play very well in our consumer culture, fueled by our appetites inflamed by the fires of advertising and credit card purchasing. However, the horrors of nation after nation murderously invading other nations should awaken us to the ruinous lust of possessing and controlling others and acquiring things for our ego, pleasure, and sense of control — whether on a national or personal level.

God's servant, the prophet Micah, records God's powerful message about His hatred of the abuse of power, the loss of our souls to covetousness, and the insatiable lust for dominance and control. These lust-fueled qualities eventually manifest themselves in dishonesty, extortion, exploitation, and violence. When anyone abuses others with these evils, God will ultimately destroy them for living violently to feed their selfish values and rapacious lusts. [1] Instead of filling and satisfying a person, such acquisitions and conquests will never provide enough to satisfy the ravenous hunger for more. As Jesus warned:

"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." [2]

In the end, all efforts toward selfish and violent acquisition may come to nothing. What people have gained through violence and injustice may ultimately be taken from them by those who conquer them. All such gains may be like putting money in a bag with holes in it. Even if they never face humiliating defeat here, we are assured they can't take their vile achievements, wealth, or status with them into the next life. Instead, they will stand before God and be forced to answer for their putrid life of injustice, hatred, neglect, and violence. Wow! What a vital prophetic message for us today.

The prophet Haggai used a powerful image to make a similar point that's applicable to us, personally:

This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies says: "Look at what's happening to you! You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear like you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!" [3]

Only by pursuing Jesus and His call to live the ethics and values of God's Kingdom and His righteousness will we find what we need in life and fullness for our souls. [4]

[1] See Habakkuk 1:2-4 for the prophet's agony and plea before the Lord for similar circumstances to those described here.
[2] Matthew 6:19-21.
[3] Haggai 1:5-6.
[4] Matthew 6:33, 11:29-30; John 10:10.

Today's Prayer

O, gracious Father, forgive us — forgive me — for our ravenous desires to acquire, control, and possess things, stuff, prestige, and influence for ourselves. Re-awaken us to the opportunity to do good, oppose evil, practice generosity, and bless others. We renounce our futile attempts to preserve our lives and keep our stuff when we know that all we have is from You, and we should use it for Your glory and the good You would have us do with it. We ask, dear Father, that at this time in our weary world's violence and abuses, You would end the violence of the wicked. Yes, O YHWH, please end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure! [A] In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

[A] The prayer of these last two sentences comes from Psalm 7:9 and seems to be a fitting prayer for this moment in our history. It is both a plea and a pledge: a plea for help and a pledge to live righteously — Psalm 11:5.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 6:19-34
  • Haggai 1:1-11; Habakkuk 2:4-14

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Illustration

Illustration of Micah 6:11-14 NLT — [The Lord said to the people in Jerusalem:] "How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights? The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.

"Therefore, I will wound you! I will bring you to ruin for all your sins. You will eat but never have enough. Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain. And though you try to save your money, it will come to nothing in the end. You will save a little, but I will give it to those who conquer you."

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.