Read: 1Samuel 2:22-4:22, John 5:24-47, Psalm 106:1-12, Proverbs 14:30-31
So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel! (1 Samuel 2:29)
Relate: For nearly all of my post college life I have been involved in youth or college ministry in some form or another. I’ve dealt with many rebellious high school and college students and their distraught parents. The accepted wisdom I’ve heard and passed on time and again is that, as a parent if they are living under your roof they must accept your rules. At some point they will step out on their own and become responsible for themselves. You can offer advice, love and support, and prayers for them but if they chose to walk away from God, if they chose to live in willful sin it is their choice. Today I just read something that sent a right hook to that view. I’m floored.
To be able to perform the duties of a priest, a man must be thirty years old. All of Eli’s sons were performing as priests which means they were all adults. But still God holds Eli responsible for their sins. He calls the father to task for his adult children’s rebellion. Think about it, the fifth of the ten commandments is to honor your father and mother. We’re often teaching these to kids but seriously, what six year old needs to be told not to murder or commit adultery? This is an adult list. When Jesus refers back to the list, he uses an adult example (corban). On the flip side, Deuteronomy says what to do with a rebellious child. You’re to take him to the elders at the gate and have him stoned. Before judgment is passed the parents are to say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” They’re probably not talking about their eight year old. You say, “that sounds like a teenager to me.” Well, for most of history, teens were adults. Only in recent years has the transition into adulthood become so protracted that most twenty-somethings still act like children today.
React: So what does this mean to me? I don’t have any adult children. I don’t even have any kid kids. I am an adult son with a responsibility to honor my mother, and not just for this coming Sunday. I am also an oldest brother with orphaned siblings. My dad died before most of my siblings hit their teen years. In many ways the spiritual responsibility for them has fallen to me. (Tim Keller does a great job talking about the true older brother) How involved have I been in their life? How faithfully have I been praying for them? If they wander from God, will I be called to account? What about others that, like Paul did, I can call my Spiritual children?
God, help me not to just live for myself. You have placed others in my life for whom You have made me responsible. That responsibility does not have an expiration date. It doesn’t get less through time or distance. First and foremost, help me to be an intercessor for them. Help me to be an example. Where I have authority, help me to exercise it with discipline. Where I do not, help me to speak in love the truth. Help me to partner with You in seeing them become all You have called them to be and never let me rest this burden until we are all together with You in heaven.