Summary: We accomplish more of what is important and enjoy the blessing of God when we focus on God’s priorities.
Title: How to Overhaul Your Priorities
Text: Haggai 1:1-15
Thesis: We accomplish the most important things in life when we focus on God’s priorities.
Series: The Bible in 90 Days Whole Church Challenge
I heard a joke this past week about a young man who was driving his BMW around a curve when he realized the car was out of control and about to plummet over a cliff. The young man jumped out, but his left arm was severed from his body. He stood there looking down at his burning BMW and said, "Oh, no! My car! My car!"
A man, who had stopped to help, said, "Mister, you have just lost your left arm, and you’re crying about your car?"
The young man looked down and said, "Oh no, my Rolex! My Rolex!" (Frank Pollard, "Do You Like Where You Live?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 10)
Our text today is about priorities and in particular, misplaced priorities.
I. Recognize misplaced priorities.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’ [Yet] Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses and this temple to lie in ruins?” Haggai 1:2 and 4
In our story today the Jewish people who were previously living in exile had returned to their homeland and were attempting to get resettled in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The place is in ruins so they had set about rebuilding their homes.
This is an easy enough scenario to grasp. Just think bombed out villages in wartime; burned out homes after the Hayman Fire gutted over 138,000 acres; blown away homes after a mile-wide tornado swept through Windsor; or washed away communities after Katrina. The natural thing to do is return and rebuild. The returning exiles were focused on rebuilding their homes and businesses and apparently had collectively decided that the rebuilding of the temple could wait… rebuilding the temple was not at the top of their list of priorities.
Apparently God was not pleased and said so through his prophet Haggai: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’ [Yet] Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses and this temple to lie in ruins?” Haggai 1:2 and 4
During the 13 years Peter Lynch was the manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, Magellan was the top-ranked general equity fund. Time called Lynch the nation’s "number one money manager." But Lynch’s money-managing success came with a price. Lynch writes:
As much as I enjoyed managing a portfolio the size of the GNP of Ecuador, I missed being home to watch the children grow up. They change fast. They almost had to introduce themselves to me every weekend. I was spending more time with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Sallie Mae than I spent with them. When you start to confuse Freddie Mac, Sallie Mae, and Fannie Mae with members of your family, and you remember 2,000 stock symbols but forget your children’s birthdays, there’s a good chance you’ve become too wrapped up in your work.
In 1989…I was celebrating my 46th birthday with my wife, Carolyn, and my daughters, Mary, Annie, and Beth. In the middle of the party, I had a revelation. I remembered that my father had died when he was 46 years old. You start to feel mortal when you realize you’re only going to exist for a little while, whereas you’re going to be dead for a long time. You start wishing you’d seen more school plays and afternoon soccer games. You remind yourself that nobody on his deathbed ever said, "I wish I’d spent more time at the office." (Peter Lynch, Beating the Street (Simon & Schuster, 1993), p. 11; submitted by Aaron Goerner)
There is nothing inherently wrong with prioritizing the building or rebuilding of your home or being devoted to your work. However they become misplaced priorities when they displace other equally or more important priorities..
There is a bit of a clue in our text as to the nature of the Hebrews’ misplaced priorities. God did not take issue with the fact that they needed to put a roof over their heads. God jibe was in reference to the fact that the homes they were building were “paneled houses.” The inference is that they were busy building some pretty upscale homes. So the misplaced priority in the mind of God had to do with the love of the people for large and spacious homes at the expense of the total neglect of the rebuilding of the temple. Or God observed that they were delaying the rebuilding of the temple because they could not afford to rebuild the temple for God (and their community) and their own designer homes at the same time.