“For I have told him that I will judge his house for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them”
1 Samuel 3:13
A very belated seasonal greetings to us all!
Welcome to the first 2013 edition of The Awakening Call.
Today, I share a word on what I perceive to be God’s standard of responsibility for those who stand in parental authority (biological/spiritual) with respect to the acts of their children or ward.
1 Samuel 2:22 highlights the sins of Eli’s sons. Verse 24 states:
“So he (Eli) said to them ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! … You make the Lord’s people to transgress”
Yet in verse 13 of chapter 3, the Lord accuses Eli of not restraining his sons. It is obvious that in the eyes of a just and righteous God, there was more that Eli could have done but did not do.
Scripture does not state what Eli’s other options were. What else could Eli have done over and above the verbal restrain to children who were practically grown up men? My opinion – remove them from the place that allows them to continue in the iniquity he admits was so severe it causes others to transgress. He could of course restore them if he senses their genuine repentance.
Eli spoke to his sons. But God considered what he did inadequate.
Beyond verbal restraint, what else could those who stand in parental authority do when the acts of their children or ward go beyond the realm of trivial human frailties to acts that are deeply grieving or displeasing to God as the acts of Eli’s sons were to Him?
Scripture remains the safest place to seek answers and God (being a Father Himself) is the most authentic person to study. While God’s deep love for Israel (and for all Christians) is not in doubt, yet all through scriptures, we see Him, when series of verbal restrain fails in restoring His people to His ways, apply judgement, not as punishment, but as a catalyst to provoke repentance and returning. We must all take a cue from this, especially those in pastoral leadership.
The most natural first step we can take when we see a child under our parental authority rebel against God's ways is the prayer of intercession. Next is the word of admonition - spoken in love. Sometimes, there is also the need to follow through with a mentorship kind of care, especially where the disobedient act is one that might take time to overcome completely. This way, we are able to offer practical support and walk the road to healing with them.
While these steps are often enough to bring the disobedient child back to God, there are times when they are not enough and discipline is required. We have a responsibility to go that extra mile; for better the discipline that leads to repentance than to let them continue in ways that strip them of the gift of eternal life - Matthew 5:29-30.
There are really no clear to do list here. The child and surrounding circumstance will often dictate what is proper. Above all, the Holy Spirit is there to guide us aright. But whatever options are required beyond verbal restrain, it must be legally lawful and done in love and only for bringing about repentance and returning.
Great thoughts! Thanks so much for sharing. I also think that the main problem with Eli's sons likely started quite a bit before the scene in the Bible. I'm sure it was begun at the cradle - or at least once they were young children.