When Jesus was on earth, He testified, “I am consumed with zeal for my Father’s house” (see John 2:17). Now His message to the Christians in Sardis, and to us, is this: “You enjoyed My favor, with a good reputation all around. You were blessed with powerful worship and preaching. But instead of moving forward, you began to think, ‘We have arrived.’ So you relaxed. You were no longer watchful, and indifference began to set in. Now you’ve settled into a spiritual comfort zone. You didn’t go on to fulfill the mission I gave you.”

God’s Word shows us what happens when we neglect His house and give first place to our own interests. It’s all illustrated in the book of Haggai.

When Haggai prophesied, God had just delivered His people out of Babylon and led them back to Jerusalem to rebuild His house. The Lord desired a “lampstand church,” where He could visibly manifest His presence among His people. He wanted the nations to see the transformed lives of the Israelites and a land filled with His blessing and glory. So He commanded Israel, “Focus on My church—that is your first mission. If you will be faithful to take care of My house, I will take care of yours.”

The people started out doing as the Lord instructed them, beginning to rebuild His temple. But after a while, they said, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:2). The interpretation here is, “We don’t have time to do that work. We’re too busy.” The truth is, they got consumed with building their own fine homes and businesses.

What was the Lord’s response? He said through Haggai, “Mine house [lies in] waste, and ye run every man unto his own house” (1:9). The prophet was saying, in essence, “God delivered you and set you on a mission to build His house. But you’re so busy building your own homes, you’re neglecting His. The Lord’s concerns are no longer your focus. You’re all wrapped up in your own interests.”

Are you guilty of the same defilement? Do you have energy to run everywhere to attend to your own concerns—but have no energy for the Lord’s interests? Do you have time to work on your own house, but only a few hours on Sunday morning for the house of God? Do you make time to shop or watch TV, but find little or no time for prayer? More importantly, do you have the capacity to be stirred by these words from the Lord?