Scripture text: Haggai 1-2 NIV
Has there ever been a time in your life where you have so much on your plate and you’re pulled in so many different directions that the things of the Lord are an afterthought? By afterthought I mean, you skip bible study because you’ve got other obligations every week or you skip Sunday service because you’re beyond exhausted? Maybe you wake up and thank God for another day and leap head first into it; you wait until the end of the day to dedicate time for focused prayer and studying God’s word, and somehow sleep catches you before you can even get started. Though you might be walking in God’s will and doing good things like being employed, caring for your family, and/or volunteering in the community, (things that He’s allowed you to be able to do) maybe it seems like the breakthrough, the next level, the goal, is always just out of reach. There’s always one more task, one more need to fill, one more assignment to finish, one more, one more, one more. But, when you stop and assess the situation, does the fruit you’re bearing match the effort you’re exerting? If the answer is not a resounding “yes!” then your priorities might be askew.
In the book of Haggai, we find God’s people in a similar situation. At the time we meet them, the people have been released from Babylonian exile by the Persians and allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But after 16 years the foundation they built within the first two years still lies bare, with no finished temple. God shows that He sees what’s happening and is not pleased in verses two and four, “This is what the Lord Almighty says and asks: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’...Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Maybe your literal church isn’t lying in ruin, but what about your ministry? What is your ministry? A ministry is defined as “the spiritual work or service of any Christian or a group of Christians, especially evangelism.” In caring for your children are you also ministering to them, teaching them the Gospel and how to live it out in their daily lives? While you’re attending church, are you also serving and contributing to the up building of God’s house and the souls within it? While you’re on your job and handling your business, are you allowing your words and deeds to minister to others as an example of Christ’s love, mercy, truth, integrity, and correction?
In Haggai 2:5-6, The Lord says, “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
When we don’t put the things of God first, time to seek His voice, time to read His word, time to draw more sheep to His flock, and time to attend to the needs of the sheep we have charge over, we end up always trying to play catch up, always trying to make ends meet, and never having enough. What’s worse, is, we can be very busy thinking we’re doing what we need to do to care for ourselves and the things in our lives despite God already telling us that He is in control, He cares for us, and to take no thought about any of that. He has commanded us, in the Old Testament and the New Testament to build His house and take care of His sheep. I haven’t read every single line of the Bible but I think even Bible scholars who have would be hard pressed to find a scripture that implores us to take care of our worldly needs first and worry about the eternal needs and later.
In Haggai, God continues to call things to the attention of His people, giving them numerous examples of calamities that befell them by His hand. In verse nine God says to the people, “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.
The people of God were kicking the can of rebuilding the temple down the road because they couldn’t make as beautiful as the first one had been. But later on, in the second chapter, The Lord tells the people that He will fill
the house with His glory. Haggai 2:8-9 says, “‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty...” So, because the people didn’t think they could make a temple good enough for God’s spirit to dwell within, they didn’t even try. However, God never put that kind of pressure on them. He simply said get the timber and build the temple, and He would do the rest.
Maybe pursuing the ministry God has lain before each of us is so intimidating that we opt instead to busy ourselves with other things that offer more tangible gratification. Our rationalization doesn’t change the truth. The truth is we are just spinning our wheels until we put the things of God first. It is then that He promises to take us off the treadmill and set our feet on the path to prosperity, peace, and spiritual overflow.