What does the American Flag, the clothes worn to a job interview, a wedding portrait, and a man’s car all have in common? The treatment given each object reveals how much a person loves that object. A tattered, worn flag could display an unintentional indifference for America’s military, but a crisp, illuminated flag demonstrates respect for sacrifices made for freedom. Wrinkled, stained clothing suggests an irresponsible, careless job candidate, but clean, appropriate clothing indicates a serious and reliable individual. A wedding portrait collecting dust in the closet can reveal friction in a marriage, but a portrait hanging in a prominent place displays appreciation for God’s gift of a spouse. A neglected, broken car might communicate disinterest for valuable items. Yet, the man who cares for his car often reflects even better care for his wife. The treatment given each object reveals the love a person has for that object.
You can learn much about a person’s priorities by the way they treat objects. And priorities are ranked by the heart. If the heart loves a car, then the car receives [the act of] care. If the heart does not care for work, then the interview receives little attention and preparation. Your outward actions reveal the attitude inside.
When you look at God’s house— its building, its upkeep, its property— what does its condition reveal about the priority God has in your heart? Consider the Attitude of Your Heart. Set straight your priorities and Build God’s house.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” Quite literally: “Pay attention to the reason for your behavior.”
God has every reason to be concerned about Israel’s behavior. He looks down from heaven and notes the effort in rebuilding his temple. A company poured the foundation— but that is all the work done. Heaps of broken concrete lie off to the side. Piles of stacked lumber sit over there. No one is working; in fact, no work has been done for sixteen years!
God looks at this and asks: “Why is my house a ruin when your homes look so good?” In fact, the people live in “paneled homes”— a picture of luxury (Haggai 1:4). As soon as someone finishes their house, they start upgrading it. They finish their kitchens, then upgrade the countertops. They lay down linoleum floors, then replace it with hardwood. They add on bedrooms! Their homes look better than God’s house. Their homes have newer updates than his. Their homes receive more attention. The special attention given these homes reveals a heart that loves stuff more than God. Their hearts loved comfort. Their hearts loved convenience. Their hearts were dying.
Remember: The treatment given each object reveals the love a person has for that object. So, Consider the Attitude of Your Heart.
When you look at God’s house— its building, its upkeep, its property— what does its condition reveal about your love for God? Is this place a priority because God is your number-one priority?
We may upgrade our yards: spreading fertilizer, raking leaves, making sure it is mowed. Even when you are at home, are you thinking about the grounds here? Do you consider investing in making the lawn look immaculate? Do you wonder who will rake the leaves? We dust and polish our homes, vacuum and pay for carpet cleaners. Are you thinking about the condition of your church pews and windows, carpets and walls? Who tends to those needs?
When we do not see those needs, they quickly slip from our minds. When we do see them, it suddenly transforms into “good enough!” The garbage flying through the church parking lot becomes “good enough.” The faded paint-job, the stained carpet, the dim lights are “good enough.” The failing appliances, the cracks in the walls, the leaks in the ceiling are “good enough.” Do you tolerate “good enough” for your house? Of course not! If we would not tolerate “good enough,” then why would we expect God to tolerate “good enough?”
The reason God’s house slips from our minds, the reason we quickly spout out a “good enough,” is because our hearts struggle to keep God as its number-one priority. So we make excuses for our behavior. We try to defend the false gods of ‘convenience.’ We protect our god of ‘time.’ We do not want to share our god of ‘effort.’
Yet, God sees through it all. “Give careful thought to your ways,” he says. Quite literally: “Pay attention to the reason for your behavior.” Your behavior reveals your priorities. Your priorities reveal what your heart loves most. Hearts that wander from God can lose him forever! Consider the Attitude of Your Heart and Set straight your priorities.
With those words, God shakes his people awake. The Israelites loved the false god of crops and drink, clothing and money. Yet, God brought a drought to take away those objects. With those little ‘gods’ gone, the people could look up to the one true God for rescue. To the God who set straight his priorities.
Your Jesus has a heart that never wanders from God. He has a heart that loves his Father in heaven most. When greedy men turn God’s temple into a money-making opportunity, Jesus chases them out (John 2:13-25). He preaches throughout the countryside, but still returns to the house of his God each week for worship. He even brings an offering— not out of obligation, but because he loved giving treasures back to God.
You see, Jesus keeps love for God as his number-one priority. Even when his Father leads him down the path of the cross, Jesus obediently follows.
You can be sure, that when Jesus dies in your place, his payment is enough. His innocent life washes out the filthy little idols in our hearts. His triumphant resurrection declares your guilt ‘Gone!’
Jesus makes this building into your second home—because this is where God dwells. He satisfies thirsty hearts with his Word: “Everything is ok. I control all things” (Matthew 28:20). He unburdens guilt: “I remember your sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). He promises life: “I am the Resurrection and the Life—those who believe in me will live” (John 11:25-26).
Consider the Joy[ful attiude] of Your Heart! In this temple God gives you spiritual rest. God gives you physical rest. What splendid treasures! That makes this house a priority. So, build the house.
Listen to verses 7-8: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house... God lists the building materials here, yes, but he points at something more important: the heart. [B]uild the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored…
That is the motivation to care for God’s house, this church. You see, the love we have for God will be seen in our treatment of everything that represents God. Simply constructing a church announces to the community that this is a special place; this place exists to meet with God. Maintaining this worship space, making it appear as beautiful as you can announces to all: “God is so important that we give our time and efforts to his service.”
And God sees the generous motivation of the heart and he delights in it. He loved you first, and touched by that love, you love him (1 John 4:19). The care for this church honors God because it is your act of saying ‘Thank you’ for his great love to you.
So, Consider the Attitude of the Heart. Remember what great things God has done for you! Then, Build the House!
Verse 12 says, Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him… Construction on God’s temple restarts and is eventually completed. Yet, notice, who is put in charge of the project. Church President Zerubabbel is not only one doing all the work. High Priest Joshua is not the only one mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage. The entire nation carries the responsibility of tending to the needs of God’s house.
It’s the same responsibility God gives you (and me)! You (and I) are responsible for the needs of this church. Now, that responsibility is carried out according to your individual gifts and abilities. (1) Maybe you are physically fit. It means God has allowed you to offer your time and effort as you’re able. Consider offering your bodies to work: raking, cleaning, painting. Instead of waiting for someone else to clean or for the Pastor to call repairmen, maybe you are the one gifted to do the work! (2) Maybe you have talents. Volunteer for events; do not just leave the same few working. Instead, help with teaching. Help with serving. Help with cooking. Help with assisting. Consider what service God allows you to give. (3) Maybe you can support. Regardless of your age, regardless of your talents, you can give your words. Pray for your leaders. Encourage your fellow members to make use of their gifts. Keep your eyes and ears open. If you see something in disrepair, say something to your church councilmen or to myself. If you desire improvements, mention something. Make suggestions as to how God’s house might be beautified.
God does not prescribe one set way to meet the needs of his house. Rather, he sends out the Word and lets you put your faith into practice. After all, this is your ministry too. There is no: “We can do nothing! I am too old! I am too poor! I am too busy!” Turn the negatives into positives. Instead of saying all the things you cannot do, focus on what you are able to accomplish. When we see our actions as direct service to God, we are motivated to serve. Our varied gifts united are used to serve God and others. Consider the Attitude of Your Heart and Build God’s house.
The devil lies to us Christians so that we believe something not true; so that we behave in ways God does not teach. The devil lies to lead us away from our good and gracious Father in heaven (Revelation 12:9).
So, the devil lies about your ministry. He wants you to despair, to feel sad and like a loser so that you feel ashamed. Then you will not want to share with others the great things God has done. He wants you to consider money your own possession— spent on yourself first and on God later— so that support for sharing the Word dries up. He wants us to stop caring about our facility, to grow so comfortable with what we have so that this becomes a house for us— and not others. Dear friends, these are lies! And God exposes them. And God teaches you how you may plug in your gifts of time, money, and talents to support, encourage, and build on this ministry. God has handed you this precious privilege and opportunity to work for his kingdom!
And it does take work. Yet, it is not up to you to muster the strength. God strengthens and equips you with the Word. God clears the clutter so that you may take up the responsibilities of your ministry again and begin holding them high for all the world to see!
God owns the Word and has made us the caretakers. What an awesome privilege! Consider the Attitude of Your Heart. Set straight your priorities and Build God’s house!