In our reading today and yesterday we observe two men and their sons. First we encounter Eli and his sons Hophni and Phineahs. Eli was a noble man of God, however, that character did not descend to his children. They were wicked cruel men as they served God and his tabernacle. They are even responsible for the Ark of the Covenant when it is lost to the Philistines. While Eli was concerned with his duty of serving as priest he failed in his duty as father. He gets a redo in his opportunity to raise our second father in Samuel. Samuel is Eli’s redemption as a father, and this time he succeeds.
However, Samuel seems to not learn from the mistakes of his adoptive father Eli. When Samuel grows old and the daily duties of judging Israel are too much for him he appoints his oldest sons Joel and Abijah to hold court. Here is what the Bible says of them … “They were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3 NLT). The elders of Israel decide this arrangement is not working for them. They now want to be like the other nations … horrible mistake, I could write a whole post on this … and they want a king … by wanting a king they are rejecting God … do you do that in own life?
How can two great men go so wrong when it comes to raising their sons? Now sometimes no matter how terrific the parent might be there can be a disposition to a person that causes them to be a “bad apple.” However, I am a high believer that the next generation is a product of their parents and the generations that have come before. Think about this … the sexual experimentation we see in our teenagers today is not their doing … it’s their parents and grandparents generation that has gradually loosened the moral code and allowed so much more on TV, the internet, and in music. Teenagers today are not controlling the content that is out there; they are just simply the consumers of it. This content for the most part has been generated by the generations ahead of them.
Friends, maybe I am on a soapbox, maybe I am meddling this morning, but I strongly believe that we have a high responsibility to raise our children to be followers of Jesus Christ. That should come first and foremost beyond anything else. We cannot get caught up in living our dreams through them. We cannot get caught up in giving them every opportunity under the sun. We cannot get caught up in lavishing every richness of the world on them. All while their faith, belief, and relationship with Jesus Christ is suffering. I am seeing this too often in our church and it is breaking my heart. Do not be like Eli and Samuel … great men and women of God … who have children who do not truly know God beyond the lip service they might pay him.
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