Week of Monday, May 17 ­– Sunday, May 23
Called Out – Man as a Battle Buddy

“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified,” says the Lord. “You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” declares the Lord of hosts. “Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” — Haggai 1:4-9
Ever been called out? You know, confronted or challenged because of something you were doing or saying that was out of line? Or maybe for a lack of follow through on a commitment? The truth is, sometimes we need it. I am one who really needs it. It stands to reason that your battle buddy from time to time will need it also. And it is up to you to muster the courage to call him out.

That’s basically what we find happening in today’s Scripture reading. The prophet Haggai was calling out the Jewish people for failure to follow through on a major commitment: Rebuilding the Temple. After living in captivity in Babylon, the Jews under Persian King Cyrus were allowed to return to the promised land. They immediately took up an offering and soon laid the foundations for a new Temple to be built in Jerusalem on the site of the ruins of the old one. They made a good start, but then the work stopped. More than a decade passed. Opposition groups had forced a temporary delay, but that issue had been resolved, so they couldn’t use that as an excuse. Clearly their hearts and minds were on other things. They built homes, planted crops, did business, but abandoned work on the Temple.

After all those years, I imagine the Temple foundations were overgrown with weeds. It was a national embarrassment. Kind of like the Washington Monument, which was started in 1848 and then stopped in 1854 due to a lack of funds. During the Civil War, the grounds around the unfinished monument were used for grazing government owned cattle, then it remained dormant for a decade afterward. It became a national embarrassment. How much more the unfinished Temple of the Lord?! The fact is the Jewish people had gotten so caught up in their own lives that they didn’t make the Lord’s Temple a priority. They put everything first ahead of God and His House. Because of that, none of their pursuits were productive because God was withholding His blessing.

Enter the prophet Haggai, along with his fellow prophet Zechariah, to confront the people for not keeping their commitment. Haggai's message was blunt and blistering. I kind of imagine him as an Old Testament drill sergeant chewing out raw recruits for being lax. Haggai pulled no punches and wasted no words. He held the Jewish community of Jerusalem to account for their spiritual dereliction of duty. And guess what happened? They responded with repentance, rolled up their sleeves, and went to work, pursuing their greatest priority: Rebuilding the Temple so they could resume their worship. Because Haggai called them out as a prophetic Battle Buddy, they put God first and got the job done.

As you survey the spiritual situation in the lives of those whom God has put in your charge, does anyone need “calling out?” Maybe it is a son or a daughter who has drifted away from the Lord, putting other pursuits ahead of pursuing God. Maybe it is a Battle Buddy who has veered off track, fallen into sin, and God is no longer first in his life. Part of your biblical responsibility as a Battle Buddy is to confront these people you care about and lovingly but firmly encourage them to reorder their priorities and put God first.

  • Before we can “call out” others, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to “search us and try us” (Psalm 139:23-24) to see if we are on track spiritually, pursuing God and His priorities first. Remember what Jesus said about the splinter and the log (Matt. 7:3-5)? Don’t launch on someone else before dealing with yourself.
  • Ask God for the courage to confront lovingly but firmly those you love who need to reorder their priorities and put God first. Keep in mind Paul’s instructions for how to go about it in Galatians 6:1-2: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
  • When you perform your duty as a Battle Buddy, pray for ears that will listen and a heart that is open to receive correction, and be sure to thank God when there is a positive response.