28 January 2021
Sorting out priorities
‘Give careful thought to your ways.’ Haggai 1: 5
After the exiles’ return to Israel from Babylon, Ezra and Haggai tell us how they eventually started to rebuild the temple. They then came under attack from the heathen people around them, and gave up the work. (Ezra 4: 24) Do we, too, lose courage when we meet resistance? The Israelites excused themselves by saying that the time had not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord. (Haggai 1: 2) However, the word of the Lord came to them through Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin? Give careful thought to your ways.’ He went on to point out that they were still short of food and drink, clothing and cash – all a direct result of their unfaithfulness. (Haggai 1: 3–5, 9)
Does the Lord blame people for living in nicely built and well furnished houses? I don’t think so. He is saying, ‘If you can afford to live in such houses, you can afford to build my house.’ In its widest sense, the Lord’s house today is his church. We should make a priority of support for missionary and evangelistic work, which spread the gospel and help the poor.
Is this how I spend my time, my education and skill, my money? Is there a disproportion between what I spend on myself and the ‘temple’? Do I spend all my time making money and neglect my family, or fail to enjoy the fellowship of other Christians in the local church? When the Israelites obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, his Spirit remained with them and they were blessed. (Haggai 2: 5) May we have
the same experience as we sort out our priorities.
Read: Ezra 5: 1–5; 7: 27–28; Matthew 6: 25–34.