For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. -- 1 Samuel 3:13
This passage in the Old Testament describes Eli's family and serves as a chilling example of every parent's responsibility to free their household from the judgement of God. Eli's failure can be our salvation if we learn the lessons for freeing our family from a similar destruction. This biblical family offers five lessons of failure that can bring about our success.
We must free our family from:
Worldly Thinking. Though the sons of a priest, Eli's boys clearly lived by worldly standards. Treating God and their father with contempt, they boldly mocked the worship of God. Thy committed immorality with the "sisters" in the "temple ministry." Though they grew up in a prophet's family, God's word had not been planted in their hearts. What standards rule the minds and hearts at your home, God's or the world's?
Hypocrisy. The sin of Eli's sons no doubt was modeled without and within the family. Peer pressure to sin is incredibly strong on your kids, but our own hypocrisy is the greatest danger to their hearts. Contempt for God may well be bred by a parent's lack of wholeheartedness. Our children will magnify our example. Will yours be even better disciples of Christ or greater hypocrisy?
Lack of Godly Love. The Lord disciplines those he loves. Eli failed to restrain his sons. Lack of respect for authority, God's or any other, maybe a direct result of the parent's failure to love and therefore discipline their children. It is easy to fall into the trap of their cuteness and to allow the sin of their character to go untrained. Do you see discipline of your children as the greatest evidence of our love? Eli learned this too late!
Neglect. Perhaps Eli had been too busy to properly love and train his sons. Ministry will never compensate for neglect of our family. In fact, neglect of our family will ultimately remove our credibility with ministry. Do you keep as tight a priority on family devotionals, quiet times and fun family times as you do ministry or job commitments?
Bad Role Models. 1 Samuel 8:1-3 tells us that Samuel fared no better with his family than Eli did. Samuel followed the example set for him in this area. There must be a very deliberate and biblical evaluation of our past family role models. Most were not Christ-centered or biblically trained. It takes conscious decisions and consistent training to break patterns as husbands, wives and families.
Eli's mistakes will either be repeated or we will learn from them to free our families from failures that he made. God earnestly wants to bless families. He wants them to become incredible sources of security, inspiration, conviction, and love. He wants to se them free to help and heal a world of wounded families.