Lessons from a Father
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – June 16th, 2019
- This morning we are focusing on fathers and the special role they play in the family and in the world. On Mother’s Day, we learned from Hannah in the opening pages of 1st Samuel. To sum up what we learned: life has its blessings and challenges. Prayer is the best response to pain, and we must wait for the Lord to answer.
- Today we are turning again to the opening pages of 1st Samuel to learn from another parent to give us guidance as to what we are to do as men. Hannah was a positive example of what we are to do, whereas Eli is a negative example. We can not only learn what not to do, but what we are to do instead. If you want to be a man who thrives as a father, the text we are focusing on today will be especially helpful in giving you good, godly guidance that will impact your household, your legacy and the world.
- 1st Samuel starts with a focus on a man named Elkanah, and his family. Elkanah is a God-fearing man who traveled with his family to a town called Shiloh to the temple to worship the Lord. At the temple we run into another man, whose name is Eli, and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas, who were ministers at the temple (1 Sam 1:1-3).
- God worked in Elkanah’s family when his wife cried out to the Lord from her pain, and God answers her by providing a son who serves the Lord and impacts the nation. This son, Samuel, was given to the service of the Lord and was trained under Eli in the temple.
- Eli was not a very good parent and did not lead his family nor the house of the Lord well. From his example here is what you need to do.
See the truth
- Eli saw and assumed the worst about others, while seeing and assuming the best about his children. This a common mistake parents make which distorts reality and causes destruction. This happens for all kinds of reasons, with the main one being we are prone to see our children as a reflection of us and we want to feel good about ourselves, so we choose to be blind about the faults and choose to focus on the “good.” We choose to see the faults in others so that our family will look better . . . we see this in Eli’s interaction with Hannah.
1 Sam 1:12-17 ESV
As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put away your wine from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”
- Eli assumed that Hannah was up to no good. Apparently, it did not enter his mind to assume something different or even investigate further to see what was really going on. He regarded her as a “worthless woman.” He assumed the worst of her, misjudged her and treated her as worthless. Lord help us in this. How many people have been misjudged and have misjudged others because of not seeing the truth and are blinded by their own sense of superiority?
- Now when it came to an assessment of His own children, this is what was written about them.
1 Sam 2:12a ESV
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men.
- What he assumed and chose to see in other people is what he was blinded to in his own family. He thought other people where “worthless” but the truth was that his sons were “worthless” (this is the exact same word that Hannah used in 1 Sam. 1:12). In your attempt to help your family by only seeing the positive you are actually hurting them. You are not helping your children by not seeing the truth, you are crippling them. The most loving thing you can do with them is see them clearly and tell them and act on the truth (Jesus in Revelation 2-3). This is not a license to be negative but a call to see the truth both good and bad.
- Choose to see them as they really are. If you are having a hard time seeing the truth, talk to someone that will tell you the truth. Ask God for help. Then deal with the reality accordingly with courage and strength based out of love for them, God and the world.
- So why did God call them “worthless men” and how can we keep our children from being like this?
Introduce them to God
- Here is the underlying reason God called them “worthless men.”
1 Sam 2:12b ESV
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.
- How could this be? They were “pastor’s kids.” They grew up in God’s house and they were “pastors” themselves. The truth is that there is a huge difference between being in the house of the Lord and knowing the Lord of the house.(Ill. of renting Reba McEntire house.) There is a huge difference between knowing about God and knowing God.
- How are your children to get to know God? You introduce Him to them. And in order to introduce Him, you have to know Him yourself. You need to talk to them about Him, and talk to Him about them. He needs to be a part of your family’s life. You need to model this in your walk and model this in your talk (See Deut. 6:4-9). Bring them to the Lord of the house and they will be a part of the house of the Lord.
- How do you know if they are just raised in the church or raised in Christ? Look for these things:
- Do they conform to culture and customs or do they transform the customs and culture to Christ? (I Sam. 2:13-14)
- Do they abuse their position and power to serve themselves or do they use their position and power to serve Christ and others? (I Sam. 2:15)
- Do they threaten others and use force when they don’t get their way or do they treat people with love and respect? (I Sam. 2:16)
- Do they see the offerings to God as a way to get what they want, or do they see the offerings of God something that is sacred and should be held in honor? (I Sam. 2:17)
- Are they sexually immoral or are they using their bodies to honor God? (I Sam. 2:22)
- Make sure you are teaching them to have a relationship to Christ, not just to the church. If they have a relationship with Christ they will have a relationship with the church.
Discipline them for their good
- When Eli was an old man he tried to deal with his sin of his children.
1 Sam 2:22-25 ESV
Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.
- Notice that Eli tries to deal with his sons when he is an old man. He did not deal with them when it could have done them the most good. He only does this after he kept hearing all that his sons were doing. Discipline your children the first time you hear a report, not only after you hear the information over and over again.
- And it was only after he heard the news repeatedly from all the people– he talks to them and instead of coming down on them and dealing with the issue, he asks them a question of “who do you do such things?” His primary motivation for dealing with them? Because the news of what they were doing was becoming well-known.
- I think Eli tried to deal with the sin not because he was concerned about the reputation of God and the souls of his children, but because he was concerned for his reputation and the reputation of the family. He should have called them out and took them out. Sometimes we are more concerned for our family name than our family’s morals. He was passive and permissive. Men, be active and involved in the life of your children.
- Then, as a last attempt, he tells them that they need to fear the wrath of God. But he got to them too late, because they had chosen to harden their heart, so God had determined to put an end to it. At times He does this with the leaders and especially those who lead his house.
- When you discipline your children, do so because you love them and you want what is best for them. Do not abdicate your responsibility in this. This is how the Lord treats us His children, and we should do the same with our children.
Heb 12:6 & 10 NIV
the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son . . . God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness
- If you love your children you will discipline them because in doing so you are helping them for there good. Don’t be lazy in this and also don’t go over overboard. Make sure your discipline in motivated by love for them in a desire for good for them.
Honor God above your children
1 Sam 2:29 ESV
Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?
- So many people choose to honor their children instead of honoring God. If your children are honoring God with their choices, then honor them for it. If they are not, do not compromise your honoring of God and His standard because you don’t want to embarrass or allow your children to suffer the consequences of their choices. Do what is right and do what God would have you to do regardless of what your children think or how this will affect them. God must come first over them. And here is the promise in this.
1 Sam 2:30-31 ESV
those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
- Choose to honor God and then God will honor you for it. But if you choose to honor them before God, you will be lightly esteemed.
Restrain them from doing evil
1 Sam 3:13 ESV
And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.
- If you know your children are doing something that is evil, something that is against God, you have the responsibility to stop them. If you don’t, you will be accountable for it as well. You have authority and you are to use it for good and to restrain evil. Inactivity in the sight of evil is an activity that angers God.
- Parents– you matter. Men– you matter. Make sure you are actively involved in the lives of your children. Seek to see the truth about them, introduce them to God, discipline them for their good, honor God above your children, restrain them from doing evil. In doing so they and the world will be glad. They will be a source of joy and not pain.
- If you have failed and fallen down on these things, get back up and get in the game. Ask God for mercy and strength. He will meet you and help you.