Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord. – Haggai 1:3-8.

A doctor in Massachusetts apparently had his priorities a little mixed recently and as a result has been suspended by the state medical board. Dr. David Arndt explained to a board investigator that he needed to deposit a check in order to pay some past due bills. During the spinal operation, he called his office and asked if “Bob” had arrived several times, meaning the check. When “Bob” finally did arrive Dr. Arndt told the other members of the team that he was taking a break but did not tell them he was leaving the building to go to his bank. Another doctor was present for the next surgical procedure, but he was not scrubbed in and was not certified for the spinal procedure. The patient was left to lie on the operating table with an open spinal incision for 35 minutes. The surgical team had no idea where Dr. Arndt had gone but saved their questions and complaints until after the surgery which was completed successfully.

The priorities of Dr. Arndt had never resulted in his suspension and loss of his livelihood in the past. He was having an increasingly difficult time of making ends meet but the day finally came when his real priorities were revealed. He was much more concerned about his own financial condition than about his patients. It was the costly result of misplaced priorities but a mistake that many have been making for centuries. We work hard but never seem to have enough; however, as long as we have a roof over our heads and are relatively safe we think we are okay. The more we encounter problems and sink toward catastrophe the more those things we surround ourselves with seem unneeded and inconsequential.

The people in Jerusalem during the time of Haggai had started out well. They demonstrated great courage returning from exile in Babylon and then under the leadership of Nehemiah rebuilt the walls even though there was opposition. They also laid the foundation for the temple but sixteen years had now gone by since their good start. The people did not deny their responsibility to rebuild the temple, and they kept saying it just was not time yet to do so. There was economic and political instability, and it was a difficult period; however, God knew the real problem was their misplaced priorities. Despite the desperate times, they still had found the funds needed to panel their own homes while the House of God was in ruins.

For us today the equivalent of investing in the building of the House of God would be the investing of our time, energy, and resources into the building up of the Kingdom of God. We may have always intended to witness to our neighbors. We always intended to be more faithful in attending church. We always intended to be more active in helping the hurting people around us. We always intended to step out in faith, to step out of the boat and walk with our Lord on the waters.

The time was long past to do the right thing God told the people so the best thing to do was to get started doing the right thing not tomorrow but today. What about us? Maybe today is the day we have been putting off for way too long to build up the Kingdom of God? Let us “consider our ways!”

(Have you been putting off doing the right thing? Perhaps today is the day to get started.)

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