Cross & Gavel Links Links

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gold from God (Haggai 2:1-9)

Do you know Christians who always seem to be gloomy and depressed? Worse yet, are you such a Christian?

Life can be pretty discouraging sometimes – especially for lawyers. We find ourselves under constant pressure and enormous demands. Our clients are never satisfied; our partners always want more; our subordinates seem to always let us down. You may feel that you could take care of your own responsibilities okay, but the people around you are not handling theirs. Practicing lawyers joke about how great life would be without clients messing everything up; law professors use the same line about life without students.

Things can be tough at home, too. Your spouse and kids have needs that you can never seem to meet. You love them a lot, but they don’t really appreciate all that you do for them. You struggle to raise a family that loves God and is called to His service, but you don’t really know. Sometimes you worry that all the kids are turning into burglars, drug dealers, and prostitutes. It’s not usually that bad, but sometimes they really do end up living in ways that sadden your heart.

Perhaps worst of all, your service for the Kingdom of Christ can seem like a real waste of time, too. You can understand it when you fail because you have been disobedient – because you neglect your relationship with God, get your priorities messed up, and don’t take advantage of the ministry opportunities that He presents.

But sometimes, by God’s grace, we get it right. Sometimes we hear our Lord’s call, and even though it is not convenient and the timing is awful, we turn from our path to His. We join the Bible study group. We teach a Sunday School class. We witness to someone on an airplane. Instead of turning away from the drunken panhandle (or throwing him more booze money!), we take the time to buy him a meal and both show him and tell him about God’s love. Even when we get it right, however, sometimes the results seem pitiful.

On some occasions, it just seems that even our most sincere, best-intentioned efforts to serve and please God accomplish nothing. Our attempt to share the Gospel brings a response of ridicule. No one shows up for the well-organized Bible study. We try to minister to people with needs, but they reject the help.

The people of Jerusalem in Haggai’s day could relate to our frustration. After Haggai preached God’s word to them, they repented. They turned from their misplaced priorities and devoted their top energy to rebuilding the temple. They were obedient, and God was pleased. “I am with you,” declared the Lord.

Yet, as the people worked on the temple, they became depressed. They remembered the splendor of Solomon’s temple – the silver and gold, the tapestries, and acacia wood – and when they looked at the simple wooden structure that was the product of their faithful obedience it seemed worthless. It seemed so futile that some of them cried. God’s words of encouragement can minister to us as well:

“Be strong . . . and work, for I am with you . . . . The silver is mine and the gold is mine . . . . The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house.”

God was true to His word. The “present house” was later visited by God’s own Son, who brought glory far exceeding anything that ever appeared in Solomon’s temple. Similarly, God will work through sincere efforts in His service, bringing glorious results in His own time and His own way.

Never be discouraged if you can’t see the fruit of your ministry. Just obey with a faithful heart, and trust God to provide the “silver and the gold.”

~ Prof. Brad Jacob, Regent University School of Law

No comments: