You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink…
To apply this figure of the prophet's to our own times-and circumstances, in a word to ourselves, let us see what is "the bag with the holes" into which honest earnings are too often put.
I. EXTRAVAGANCE is such a bag. I mean the spending more on a thing than our income justifies. Bishop Patrick begins a chapter with a notable warning, "Consider thine own sufficiency." Weigh well what you are equal to, and this may as well apply to our income as anything else. If we allow ourselves in any instance an expenditure, no matter what be the subject of it, which is unsuitable to our circumstances and inconsistent with our means, there is no other name for this that I know of than extravagance; i.e (to trace the word to its derivation) a wandering beyond the just limits within which our course should lie. There is a certain suitableness between our position and circumstances on the one hand, and our expenses on the other, which good taste will discern instinctively; any squandering in one direction must involve poverty in the other: I do not say a "bag with holes," but a bag with one hole will let out all the money, that which is for necessary wants, as well as that which is spent upon the luxury. Is not extravagance the fault of the age? Do not men of all classes live so near to their income that it is hardly possible to avoid going beyond it? There are but two ways of meeting that difficulty: we must earn more or spend less.
II. There is another bag with holes — WASTE. This, though it resembles extravagance in some respects, is a different thing, for extravagance is in superfluities; waste may be of things necessary. I fear this is an in. creasing fault. I see it wherever I go: waste of fuel and of food, waste of money, waste of land, waste of its produce. Yet He who, by a miracle twice repeated, made bread enough and to spare for thousands in the wilderness, had an eye to what was over; and left us a memorable lesson: "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." Young people hardly know how much can be done simply by wasting nothing. I have an honest shepherd near me who once offered me a loan of £200. I know another who has saved enough to buy him a little farm. What was their secret? They wasted nothing. They have had enough for livelihood, enough for health, for comfort, and this to spare when the day of feebleness and dearth shall come. Their bag was not one with holes.
III. Akin to extravagance and waste is EXCESS. This does, indeed, partake of the character of the other two; but it has this element in addition, that it is extravagance and it is waste, both employed on self, and both to the detriment of self. If you will just call to mind some of the calculations which are now familiar to us all you will see what a bag with holes this is for the earnings of the nation at large. More than 100 millions are spent in the kingdom every year on drink! This is the great bag with holes into which skilful earnings, hard earnings, costly earnings, are too apt to be put. That dreadful, that pitiable habit of intemperance is a solvent which will melt down a fortune however great, and a man however strong. No matter what is put into the bag, through that one hole it disappears, and leaves the owner of it like the tattered bag itself.
(A. C. Bishop, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
WEB: You have sown much, and bring in little. You eat, but you don't have enough. You drink, but you aren't filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it."