Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (Haggai 1:3-4)
I’ll never forget one of the first years when I was a homeowner. Halloween came, and I was really excited to have trick-or-treaters come to the house. I was not, however, prepared for the woman pushing a baby carriage who requested candy for the infant. I almost paused and said, “CPS will be all over you if I let you feed candy to your baby,” but I decided to let her have her mini Snickers bar without putting up an argument. She wasn’t concerned for the kid; she was concerned for herself.
Whether we’ve seen it in someone else or simply experienced it in our own lives, the idea of putting “me before you” is fairly prevalent in our me-driven culture. However, such attitudes are not the standard for healthy relationships – both with other people and with God.
One of the messages that God was sending to the Israelites through Haggai was that they were putting themselves first and Him last. The Israelites were generously getting their homes back in order, and they completely neglected God’s earthly home: the Temple. He reminded them that they weren’t to be putting their own needs above Him. After all, He was the One who provided for them (and us) anyway.
The Israelites needed to give back generously to Him as a reminder of what they were about as a people. They were stewards of what God had given – they weren’t owners. We need to be reminded of the same truth sometimes. Whatever we have is not ours; we’re simply stewards of what God has given us. If we’re not giving back to Him first, then we’re really not trusting Him with the things He gave us in the first place. It’s not me before You. It’s God first, then you, and then me. If He can be trusted, then there’s no fear in living this way because we know He will continue to provide for everything.
Father, in my relationship with You, please keep me from thinking of You as an afterthought. Keep me from putting myself before You because, in doing so, I’m simply saying that I don’t trust You enough to meet my needs the way they need to be met. In all of my relationships, whether with You or with other people, let me seek to put others before me.