This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Hag. 1:7)

WHEN I WAS MUCH YOUNGER and dreaming of my career, a wise person advised, “Be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them on your way down.” I hadn’t considered failing. Most of us love the view of the world from our rooftop of success, but falling to its icy floor is a shattering experience. That’s when we hope we’ve treated others with kindness and love, for that is how we want them to treat us in our time of need.

God directed the people of Israel to rebuild His temple. They really wanted this, for it had been their cherished place of worship before it was destroyed. Yet when they returned to Jerusalem to rebuild it, they forgot all about God’s house and focused instead on building their own homes. Everything went wrong, because God was trying to get their attention and tell them to put first things first.

Haggai told the people to stop working on their own houses and start building God’s temple and all would be well. Their self-righteousness and greed had seemed harmless at first, but when they hit bottom, they knew they had met an unhappy God on the way down. So they quickly set to work rebuilding His house. Always put God’s business first, and you will stay on top.

Examine each day to ensure that God’s work is completed before yours.

Alice Thomas is an adjunct professor of English at Lone Star Montgomery College in Conroe, Texas. She loves to garden and read.