Don't Neglect God's House

I love my house. My wife has done some amazing things with decorations and paint to really make it feel like a home. Hopefully we all have a place like this, where we can relax and just rest from the troubles of the day. We put a lot of time and effort into these places, manicuring our lawns, buying furniture, hanging pictures, and getting just the right amount of technology to make our lives simple and easy.

Recently God confronted my view of our home in a little book called Haggai. Yes, Haggai is an actual book of the Bible. Maybe it still has that new-Bible smell in your copy. If you turn the pages too fast you'll miss it. It's only two chapters long; less than forty verses. This book is the recorded prophecies of a man (Haggai) who was sent to encourage Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem around 500 years before Christ. In it I read these challenging words: "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?... Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD." (Haggai 1:4, 7-8)

One of my first reactions was, "Why does God need a house?" God is everywhere and all powerful. Surely He could build a house for Himself greater than anything we could ever come up with (Acts 7:49-50). Why is he trying to get Israel to build Him one here? Why is this so important?

I believe the answer is that God's house, in this passage, says more about the people who build it than the one who it's for. Of course God doesn't need a house to live in. But the condition of the temple reflected the place His people had for Him. It told a watching world how much they believed in God and where He ranked in their list of priorities. They were building up their own homes, trying to advance their careers, hoping to gain wealth, while God's house sat in ruins. It just wasn't important to them, and neither was God.

Thankfully, we have the promise that God is building us into a house, namely the church (1 Pet. 2:4-5). But this doesn't change the message of Haggai to us today. Are we investing so much time and money into our homes that we are neglecting the church? Do we sacrifice opportunities to serve in the church because of family or do we sacrifice our lives for His service? How we spend our time and money are great indicators of what is really important to us. As I read this, I had to ask myself what my time and money say about my priorities. Am I neglecting God for the sake of myself and things I want to do? Am I falling into the same trap Israel did so long ago of building my beautiful home while struggling to give regularly to the church?

My prayer is that all aspects of my life, not just my time on Sunday, will show that God is my highest priority.

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