February 21, 2012

Haggai 1:4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

The book of Haggai is all about priorities. The people had returned from exile to find everything in ruins, and their first thought had been to provide nice places for themselves to live. God had to use the combination of a drought and a prophet to get through to them that He was their Provider and He should be their top priority. Thankfully, they did get the message. However, today it is politically incorrect to suggest that anything is a judgment from God, so disasters get wasted. Justification for that attitude is drawn from Jesus’ response to some disasters of His day, (Luke 13:1-5) but that overlooks the fact that Jesus said everyone needed to repent. People want preachers to tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3) and not confront them with how they need to change. Repentance is actually the first order of the day! Practically all Christians are familiar with Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” but they seldom really try to put it into practice. It’s not that we really don’t know what to do, it’s that we fail to follow through. Hedonism is currently a dominant attitude in much of the world, summed up in the famous motto from my youth, “If it feels good, do it.” That’s no way to receive the blessings of God! God desires to pour blessings out on us, but our priorities have to be straight in order to receive them.

I can’t say that I’m innocent here. At the same time, I’m in the position of calling others to repentance. I’d better be sure to keep my own repentance up to date! Priorities can be tricky. We may think they are one way, when honest self-examination will reveal they are another. That’s why we need the help of the Holy Spirit to see ourselves accurately, and we need His help even more to make the changes that are called for. I am to relate to others with grace, mercy, and compassion, but I am not to draw back from speaking the truth to them in love, even if it’s not politically correct. The Bible says many times in many ways that fearing people’s reactions is a snare, and it’s one I’ve fallen into more times than I could count. My priority must be pleasing God, loving Him and loving my neighbor enough to speak God’s truth to him in love, whatever that makes him think of me.

Father, You know my dislike of confrontation as well as I do. Forgive me for valuing my own comfort level above the benefit of a brother in Christ. Help me keep my own priorities straight and call others to do likewise, so that together we may walk in, and enjoy, all that You have planned for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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