Haggai is a very small, relatively unknown book of the Old Testament. Many people think Hezekiah is an Old Testament book, but have no idea that Haggai actually is. Haggai is one of the prophets God used to motivate the people to rebuild the Temple after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. Though there are only 38 verses in the book, Haggai carries a weighty message. Here are two key themes from the book.
- The way the people treat the Temple says a lot about how the people relate to the Lord. In the New Testament context we understand that our bodies and the Church are the Temple of the Lord. The way we behave morally in our bodies and the way we relate to God’s church are tangible displays of our relationship with God. A person may claim to know the Lord, but if we have no consideration for His Temple (our bodies and His people) we are deceiving ourselves. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6 and 2 Corinthians 6 are very much the message of Haggai for our time.
- Sin and attitudes are contagious (Hag. 2:10-14). By Old Testament law a defiled thing contaminates everything it touches. The defilement is subsequently passed along then until the objects are brought back to purity. The same can be said for our influence over other people. Sin impacts the way we think. Living in sin is an open invitation, a conduit for the negative impact of uncleanness to defile our relationships. Bitterness is but one negative attitude by which many become defiled (Heb. 12:15). Encouragement can become equally as contagious. We must make a choice.
So how should we respond? Do you want to make some real progress? Haggai says to put your heart to your road.
To put your heart to your road is the Hebrew idiom we translate into the English phrase, “Consider your ways (Hag. 1:5).” In the Hebrew language the heart is the seat of thought. To put your heart to the road means to take a hard look at your life. It means to evaluate what is behind you and be honest about what is ahead if you continue in the same path. Haggai tries to show his people their path (1:6-11). Life isn’t working. It’s time to think about our past, be honest about our future, and make a turn in direction before it is too late. Someone said that the definition of stupidity or insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Haggai is begging the people to put their heart to their road and end the insanity.
So how do we put our hearts to the road?
- Write your story and erase the blame. It is hard to know where you are going if you haven’t really thought much about where you have been. Why are you as you are? It is no accident. Along the way you have had plenty of collisions and collusions. It is easy to blame others for the reason life is as it is. While there may be plenty of people who are blameworthy in your story, you must remember, at the end of the day you are the only one left to choose how to respond. Great people become as they are because they have made great choices. There are plenty of great people who have a horrible past. There are plenty of horrible people who have a great past. Its all in how you choose to respond. Write your story and evaluate your choices. You have no one to blame but yourself from this point onward. It’s your heart. It’s your road. Think hard about the next steps.
- Invite someone else into the conversation. It is easy to be honest about what we think about other people. It is very difficult to be honest about ourselves. We insulate ourselves with self justification and clothe ourselves in blindness. We all need someone in our life who will be honest; someone to answer the hard questions. When you find that person, appreciate them, don’t push them away. You may be angered by what you hear. It’s natural. But remember, this is your heart on the road. This is not a safe place for a heart to be. Vulnerability is a foreign feeling for most of us, but we need it if we are going to accomplish real change.
- Invite someone else to walk with you. Once you find that person who will be honest with you, you may want to invite them, or someone else, to walk with you. If we are open only to one honest conversation, at some point your vulnerability and their honesty will be a distant memory. The conversation needs to continue. We need constant course correction. When people walk alone, they walk in circles. They go right back to where they were. People who live life in honest community with others tend to make greater progress. They walk a linear path because they have people all along the way who will not allow them to return to where they once were.
- Journal the journey. They say that our brains never really forget anything. If that is true, the brain may be a brilliant database of memories, but the problem is in the recall. If my brain truly has all of my memories, the problem for me is that I can’t remember them. Journaling helps us remember where we were and in turn journaling helps us see the progress. Journaling is published progress. My appearance changes a little everyday. Even though I use a mirror every morning, I don’t notice it. Yet if I look at a picture of myself 10 years ago, the change is apparent. Journals are not mirrors to the soul. Journals are snapshots, markers that will help you notice the changes or lack thereof. Journals are a great way to put your hear to the road.
Its time to end the stupid, insanity of being the same. It is time to truly change your ways. It’s time to make real progress. Let’s follow Haggai’s advice. Put your heart to the road.