Haggai is a little book of prophecy near the end of the Old Testament. It’s less than two pages, but God packs a great lesson into this little book.
Read Haggai 1:1-11. The Israelites had been in captivity (again) and God delivered them from their captors (again). The people were thankful for deliverance and started rebuilding the temple. They built the foundation and the altar and then they stopped. They had time and plenty of materials but they left God’s temple sitting unfinished. They started strong but got distracted.
Read Haggai 1:2-4 again: “These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?”
I’m sure if we asked the Israelites they would say God was the most important thing to them, but their actions didn’t support it. The people didn’t say they would never build the temple just that they had other things they wanted to do first. What they were doing wasn’t bad, they just weren’t doing things in the right order.
Have you ever done good things in the wrong order? In Haggai 1:6, God pointed out what their out-of-order priorities were doing to them: “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
They worked but never accomplished much. They didn’t have enough food or drink to fill them. They had clothes, but not enough to keep them warm. They earned money but wasted it.
Jump forward to Haggai 1:9-11 and read how God explains why their work isn’t accomplishing much. God needed to get their attention. Because of God’s great love for the Israelites, he doesn’t leave them in the mess their priorities created. He tells them how to fix it.
Read Haggai 1:7-8. What were God’s instructions? God told the people to go finish his house but he tells them to do something first. He says: “Consider your ways.”
As a mom, have you ever said to your child, “Sit there and think about what you’ve done!”? (If you haven’t yet, you will one day!) God is telling the Israelites, consider your ways. Think about your choices. Examine your heart. THEN, after you have done that, go finish what you started.
The best way to check your priorities is to consider these three things: Where do I spend my time? Where do I spend my money? What do I protect?
Write down your answers. You don’t have to share them with anyone, just consider them for yourself.
Go back to Haggai – Why did God want the Israelites to build the temple in the first place? The answer is in verse 8 which says, “that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified.” Isn’t this why we were each created in the first place? If some of the things on our list of priorities above do not bring God pleasure and glory, we need to consider our ways and ask, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”
It is easy to get busy with all the details of planning a life. But we must consider our foundation and think about why we are doing what we are doing. Before you plan one more thing, consider your ways – personally and for those you lead.