Neglect isn’t always obvious… at first

Neglect isn’t always obvious. Well, at least it isn’t obvious at first. I’ll give you an example. Let’s pretend that I go several years without a daily exercise routine in my life. I’ll be okay at first, relying on my young age and past work. But what happens in the long run? I get old. I get out of shape. My body gets sore, not from lifting weights, but from lifting myself out of bed in the morning. Hey now, wipe that smile off your face; this is purely hypothetical!

The truth is, there are places in my life that I can easily neglect. Places that don’t have instant results. Places that seem intangible because I can’t see the good they do with my eyes. I don’t neglect the obvious stuff. I go to work and pay my bills. I stay on my side of the road and pay attention when I drive. I parent my children and make sure their needs are met. Of course I do the obvious stuff, because when I don’t the consequences are obvious.

The things I neglect tend to be the not-so-obvious ones. Which is why the results of that neglect isn’t always obvious. Well, at least it isn’t at first. The result of neglect exists even when we can’t see it. Neglect your wife and it will erode your marriage. Neglect your body and discover the aches and pains of old age. Neglect your walk with God and discover the erosion of your soul.

house-falling-apart

Nehemiah 10:39b “We will not neglect the house of our God.” 

The commitment made by God’s people here is simply this: we will not neglect his house. Now in this context, they were literally talking about the temple of God. They were talking about the place of church. They had committed to be faithful in their giving and in their service. Because when you neglect the house of God, you neglect the kingdom work that God has called us to.

But wait, there’s more! For us New Testament Christians, the application goes a step further. Not only is the house of God the gathering place of the church. The house of God is the dwelling place of God…in us! We are called His house. We are His temple. Caring for that temple is up to us. When we neglect our spiritual house, we neglect the work of God in us.

The neglect isn’t always obvious… at first. But over time, our heart begins to erode. Our passion for our Savior begins to wane. Our love begins to fade. Our mission and our vision seem to have left the building. We cannot neglect the house! We must return to self-discipline, discipleship, the Word, and prayer. Because if we don’t we will eventually dry up, burn out, and find ourselves empty.

Neglect not the house of our God. Do the work today. If you do, you will find living water returning to your soul and filling those dry places. You will rediscover hope and vision. You will remember where left your peace. Don’t neglect becoming a house for God to dwell.

The principal is only the bad guy when you are too

Micah 2:7 Should it be said, O house of Jacob: “Is the Spirit of the LORD angry? Does he do such things?” Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright?

You don’t meet many people who can say, “I like discipline; I like to be corrected.”  Because correction hurts.  Even if it comes in love and is true, it doesn’t feel that good. Think about it.  When you discipline your kids, you completely understand the necessity of it.  Do they feel good about it?  No, they don’t.  Most kids don’t enjoy discipline – neither do adults.  You know when discipline isn’t scary, though?  It’s when you didn’t do anything wrong.  Yes, when you are upright, you don’t have to fear discipline and correction.  You won’t get called into the principal’s office for something bad when you didn’t do anything bad.  You might still get called in there, but it will probably be for another reason.  Maybe it will be to build you up or encourage you.  Maybe it will be to give some advice for success.   The principal is only the bad guy when you are too.

This is essentially what God was saying to the people.  Why do you think I am angry?  Why are you so afraid of my discipline?  Why are you terrified about what I am going to do to you?  Well, it’s because they were being naughty little children.  And naughty little children should expect some discipline.  But to the upright, the words of the Lord do good.  They aren’t scary even if they are discipline.  Because there is a recognition that the Lord disciplines those He loves.  So I can take His correction without fear because He loves me and I am upright.  When I strive to live upright, His words of discipline challenge me and encourage me.  As I see His heart, it changes me – not because I am afraid of Him, but because I see the gap between His heart and mine.  I see the grand canyon between the way He loves and the way I love.  And His words do me good.  They challenge me and transform me.  Yes, they do me good.