In the small Old Testament book of Haggai, the prophet is moved to point out that the job of rebuilding the temple wasn’t complete because the people had misplaced their priorities. They were serving themselves rather than God. Walking through Haggai chapter one I found six things that happen when our priorities are out of order….including some introspective questions.
When Our Priorities Are Misplaced We put off doing God’s Work (Haggai 1:2 …These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’S house.’ ) Consider your own heart and think about the reasons why you’ve put off doing God’s work today? I’m pretty sure most of us have our ‘reasons’ for putting off great things we could do for God. Are those reasons reasonable?
When Our Priorities Are Misplaced We serve ourselves before serving God (Haggai 1:3-4 Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?) Focus on self seems to be pretty natural. Christians we are reborn but maturing, growing. Part of that growth is to look beyond ourselves. King Cyrus had provided the Jews with money to buy hardwood timber to rebuild the temple (Ezra 3:7; 1 Esdras 4:48; 5:54). It appears likely that the restoration Jews had used this superior wood to build their own homes rather than to rebuild the temple. How have you used the best gifts for yourself and ignored what God needs you to do for Him?
When Our Priorities Are Misplaced We are Unsatisfied in life (Haggai 1:5-6 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.) Can I get a witness? In what ways is this a good description of our times? Sometimes when we feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled it is not because we are focused on God, but on ourselves. The things we do to try to make ourselves happy usually only leave us hungry and thirsty and broke. Where can you find satisfaction in serving God and others today?
When Our Priorities Are Misplaced We Forget to Honor God (Haggai 1:7-8 Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored...) Do you think about your life in terms of honoring and dishonoring God? What are some ways we can honor God with our priorities today?
When Our Priorities Are Misplaced We Suffer Unmet Expectations (Haggai 1:9-10 You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? … Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.) Why do we sometimes expect that we can displace God from our lives and reap great blessings? What kinds of things do you think most people expect in life if they try to be a good person?
When Our Priorities Are Misplaced We may experience God’s discipline (Haggai 1:11 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.) Someone has said, “Those who plan to give to God ‘once they have enough for themselves’ will never have enough for themselves!” What do you think about that statement?
Of course the people Haggai was speaking to have the same troubles we have. Jesus calls us to put our focus, our priorities, in the right place.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~Matthew 6:33
Read back through the items above with Matthew 6:33 in mind …and see if there are any connections.
Resources for further study:
Dr. Constables’ notes on Haggai: LINK.
John Mark Hicks’ study on Haggai: LINK.
Mark Copeland’s outline: LINK.
Thanks for reading!