Nothing can warp your priorities like an unhealthy dose of self-interest. When your view of the world can’t extend beyond the mirror, your spiritual vision becomes clouded. When you over value your self-image, you will discipline your kids for misbehavior because they have embarrassed you, not because they have disobeyed.
Being too interested in your own image in parenting means you care more about how others perceive you than you do about your own child’s heart. When you are driven by selfish ambition, your family, friends, church, and God will inevitably take a back seat. You can’t pursue God’s glory with your life if you are pursuing your own.
Haggai’s first sermon-like message to the people of Israel was a call for them to “consider their ways.” The Lord himself said the Jews had reasoned among themselves that it was not the right time to rebuild the house of the Lord. The time didn’t seem right because their priorities weren’t right. Rebuking them, the Lord calls the Jews “these people” rather than “my people” indicating that their pursuit of self-glory was reorienting the focus of their worship.
While the Jews were diligent to rebuild their own homes, they feared there weren’t enough finances or materials to take on a temple reconstruction project. But the fact remained: their homes were complete, while God’s house was in ruins. God didn’t need a home in order to have a place to dwell, but the temple was the central location of God’s dwelling place with his people. The problem is clear: God’s people prioritized their prosperity over God’s presence.
If we aren’t careful, we will fall into the same trap as the Israelites. If we don’t stop to consider our ways, we will find ourselves pursuing personal prosperity over the Lord’s presence. Through Christ, we have access to God’s presence that ancient Israel never even dreamed of having.
To neglect the presence of God by prioritizing anything in our lives over pursuing him in his Word, prayer, and the gathering of believers is to turn the gospel on its head. We have been brought near to God through the work of Christ, so it would be foolish to intentionally move away from him for the sake of personal prosperity that will soon pass away.