A lesson from Eli’s life – correcting others before they cause your downfall
Praise be God who gives wisdom to those who believe in him. We pray that each one who comes to Christ desires to please the Lord God by walking in true wisdom and integrity. May the Holy Spirit reveal to us everything and everyone that we can correct in our lives. Amen
Eli the priest at Shiloh was a priest of the Lord God. He had done some remarkably good deeds such as praying that the barren Hannah gives birth a child and also that the child Samuel comes to know of his prophetic calling for God. Despite all this he didn’t have a happy ending. This is quite a tragedy considering he was a devout man of God in most of his actions except one.
So what went wrong for him?
I answer that by pointing to what the Lord God revealed to the child Samuel which is nothing less than the judgment against Eli’s family. Let’s read the following verses (1 Samuel 3: 8-14) to get the true picture:
8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 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. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
You might want to read 1 Samuel 3: 8-14 mentioned above once again that the seriousness of the judgment of God against Eli’s family sinks in really well. Just imagine, how would a child react if receives his first ever prophecy and he is told that his mentor’s family is going to be punished because of blasphemy against God. Now, the Lord God didn’t want to keep this child clueless as to why it was going to happen. It was clearly mentioned that Eli was forewarned about the highly immoral behavior of his sons in the house of worship of the Lord God.
So what exactly were Eli’s sons misdeeds?
12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt. (1 Samuel 2: 12-17)
What was Eli’s reaction to the crimes of his sons?
22 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 these 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. (1 Samuel 2: 22-25)
Well Eli did rebuke them but that’s it. The Lord God expected Eli to restrain his sons but then Eli didn’t stop them from continuing in their evil. Though he knew his sons had immoral affairs with women he didn’t really do anything that would have made an effective stop to their wickedness.
Was Samuel the only one who received the prophecy of judgment against Eli’s family?
Samuel was never the only one in this matter. There’s another prophet mentioned in 1 Samuel 2:27-36 who is not identified by name but only as a man of God. He declared by the Lord God that Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas shall both die on the same day as a sign to Eli for their wickedness.
What happened to Eli and his family after receiving the prophecy from Samuel?
10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. (1 Samuel 4:10-11)
When Eli asked the man of Benjamin who ran from the battle with the Philistines, he was already in great fear about the Ark. On hearing of the capture of the Ark of God, Eli the priest fell backward and died.
17 He who brought the news answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years. (1 Samuel 4: 17-18)
The wife of Phinehas and their little baby son then had much grief to bear. In fact she lost the happiness of the birth of their child and named the baby with such a name which only reflected sorrow due to departure of the glory of God.
19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
What is the main lesson we can learn here?
Correct others before they cause your downfall especially if they are associated with you by way of authority, ministry, family, friendship, mentoring or any other way in which you might be directly accountable for their actions. Do what is right first instead of focusing on methodology. Remember that though you are to be nice and polite, you can’t let your goodness turn a blind eye to those who are being oppressed because you don’t want to take decisive action. I will give you some examples of how this works so that there’s nothing too ambiguous in this regard.
- Suppose you are a manager at work and your deputy misuses his powers and demands bribes from his colleagues to not be a roadblock to their careers and you decided to not stop him despite being aware of this. By stop him, I mean not a mere rebuke but actually stopping him from taking bribes or just removing him. So because you don’t stop him, the matter goes out to the police who then arrest you along with your subordinate as they find it hard to believe that you didn’t try to stop him. This makes the police assume you too were the partner in crime.
- Another example, you are a leader to a team of preachers. One of your preachers is preaching heresy instead of the true Gospel but he gets in a lot of offerings every time he preaches. You feel it’s not good to tell him anything as it may ‘offend’ him. Besides you assume that next time you shall preach another sermon which counters his heresy to the congregation maybe a month later and you secretly hope that the people didn’t actually believe his falsehood. Then goes a complaint to the main overseeing authority in your country and all hell breaks loose. The corrupt preacher is sacked, named and shamed. His heresy is exposed. But so are you in trouble too. You asked to either resign from your church ministry office or face an inquiry which will surely defame you so badly that you won’t stand a chance to fight back.
- A woman loves her daughter a lot and takes it to the extreme by deciding to let her daughter do anything and everything with no questions asked. While her daughter is into immoral relations with a married man, her mother does nothing to stop her. Things go out in public and the married man’s wife now decides to file a lawsuit against her husband. She ends up dragging the girl’s mom into court as well and ends up ruining their reputations too.
What else can we understand in this regard?
- Rebuking and restraining don’t always mean the same thing.
- In regards to ministry there’s no compromise allowed about the things of God.
- Do not permit sexual immorality anywhere that you can stop it legally.
- Prophetic warnings are not to be taken lightly.
- Children can receive prophecy but their claims too need to be examined.
- You are responsible for those under your authority.
- Family members don’t just need right example from you, they too need to act right.
- Do not be presumptuous of yourself nor others.
- Never let your emotions make the facts look muddied.
- When good works and bad works mix, the bad works stand out unless there’s repentance.
- God won’t give you a prophecy without an explanation or justification.
- Never think any object is greater than the word of God to give you victory.
Will power, discipline and legalism in doing the works of God
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2)
Do you serve the Lord with gladness? Do you feel that serving God is something that you need to do legalistically or freely?
Never get into a legalistic mode when serving God. Because your will power and disciple will get affected in the course of time. You are not a robot!
The Christian faith goes beyond religion because it concentrates not on rituals but on relation. Not any ordinary relation but a relationship with God through Jesus Christ his Son. So keep ritualistic attitudes outside and far away from your relationship with God.
It may be possible to show your gladness externally like smiling, singing when preaching the Gospel to unbelievers. But sometimes you can’t actually do this in instances of praying for a person who is suffering from cancer and is in pain. The point is that the expression of gladness must always be there in your inner being. You can be happy in your heart that Christ gives you salvation even in the midst of pain and suffering that you encounter either in yourself and others. Even Moses said in Exodus 15:2 that; The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Getting your mind right can dramatically affect your will power and discipline in doing the works of God. You will need to be very familiar with the word of God for this and put it to action.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:7-10)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22)
A sure sign of faith that is disciplined is that you do not empower the flesh nature but rather you focus on the desires of the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)
We must encourage each other to hold on the to word of Christ. Never force anyone but rather do it in freedom and respect. We do not condone sin but we exhort each other to be holy for God.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:1-12)
Accept the discipline of God because he loves you. God loves you as his child. No good parent will like to see his child eat stale food. If a child still tries to eat stale food then the good parent will surely try to correct the child. This is because the parent is aware of what is beneficial to the child and what is not.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage (Psalm 94:12-14)
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)
Never mistake the correction (or chastisement) of God as punishment. Because if you were to be punished he would have done so already. Correction is so that you improve while punishment comes due to lack of repentance.
Correction may come in form of preaching, teaching and examples in real life. Most of the while the Lord God will speak through your conscience about whether you are making a wrong move or walking on the right path. Sometimes godly people will approach you and try to get you on the right track. Never get confused between false accusers and those who truly are trying to help. Check the facts for yourself with the Bible as your guide. Because skepticism is not a substitute for discernment.
The difference between correction and punishment must be clear to you. Otherwise you might simply be bitter over nothing. Suppose you are speeding in your car and your dad is in your car too and he yells at you to slow down, he is not punishing you. He is only correcting you. However, if he makes you stop because you refused to slow down and then bans you for a month from driving then that is punishment.
You are to remain disciplined even as you commend others to godliness. If you train people to be holy but yourself commit robbery, you are in danger of hell fire.
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27)
You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2: 23-24)
Have your will power and discipline for the Lord God not out of compulsion but out a free and thankful heart. This way you will truly give glory to God through Jesus Christ his Son. God be with you!
Is correcting and judging others a sin?
Matthew 7:1-5 1You shall not judge, lest you be judged. 2For with the judgment that you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure that you measure, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you notice a chip that is in your brother’s eye, and you do not observe the plank that is in your own eye? 4Or how do you say to your brother, ‘Let me cast out the chip from your eye’, and behold, a plank is in your eye? 5Hypocrite! First cast out the plank from your eye, and then you will see to cast out the chip from your brother’s eye.
These verses from the Bible are indeed good. They tell you to use the right measure when judging others and first being correct yourself before correcting others. Even atheists like to quote these verses though they reject the Gospel. There are some who use these verses to save a corrupt secular or religious leader. However what is more bad is how some believers interpret these verses. They hold that you are to totally refrain from judging any one, as you will be judged the same so just KEEP QUIET about anything wrong in anyone’s behavior.There are scriptures on correcting others which you will get you read further.
In the mean while, I can prove that at some point of time, you WILL judge someone invariably. Let me ask you a quick question. Is Satan a bad person?
If you said yes he is a bad person, then my friend you have JUDGED Satan but you are correct with that. If you said no, then unfortunately you still used judgement are HIGHLY wrong and need a reality check ASAP. If you refrained from saying yes or no, then you have DENIED the Gospel and judged it because the Lord Jesus called Satan the Evil One. Matthew 5:37 But let your word ‘yes be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.
Now what is my point in all this.
My stand is that if you have the light of the Gospel in your belief and actions, then help others who are in their sins to get back to God and for that you are going to need to tell them they are WRONG in their ways. Now you can do that CALMLY without getting irate. If they accept correction wisely then its good for their souls. But if people do not change after hearing you, it will still benefit others.
1 Timothy 5:20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
Stop thinking that people seeing your good behavior will then leave their wicked ways so you have an excuse to be quiet. Jesus before he started his public ministry on earth, lived a 100% holy life but tell me how many people saw the good in him and started trying to live holy lives? None at all. Why so? I answer using the below verse.
2 Corinthians 4:4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
However, when Jesus PREACHED the Gospel, it was then that lots of people who were sinners repented of theirs sins and chose to live holy. That is why its important that you preach the Gospel to unbelievers and remind others to hold on to the words of the Gospel.
With that said, this is a not an excuse to go on a correction spree especially with your kids and spouse! What matters is that the correction is timely (not years later to pick up a quarrel) and that it is done without hate.
We need to be right in our approach. For this we need to be aware of the scriptures regarding this and act as per that.
Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Galatians 6:1 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.
2 Thessalonians 3:15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
1 Timothy 5:19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
2 John 1:7-11 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.