Eli's sons were scoundrels;
they had no regard for the LORD.
1 Samuel 2:12
Eli held one of the most respected positions in the Jewish community— a priest in God’s temple. It was his job to hear from the Lord and make God’s will known to the people. But he was also the father of two sons. Church kids. While Eli was busy at the temple, the boys ran wild. Eli made the mistake many parents make, especially those in ministry. He elevated church work over family responsibilities, and assumed the kids would catch morality like the flu. God judged him for not restraining them.
God warned Eli years earlier that his sons were no good and he needed to do something about that. But like many fathers, Eli was passive. Discipline required energy and unpleasant confrontation, so he ignored their ungodly behaviors. We see this attitude after a thug has been arrested for assaulting someone. “He’s a good boy,” the tearful mother says. “He just got in with the wrong crowd.” That may be true. But it’s more likely that he WAS the wrong crowd. It’s difficult for us to see the people we love realistically, but God doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses when he sees our family. He expects parents to be intentional about teaching, disciplining, and restraining their children. Eli remained passive, and everyone suffered. Don’t be an Eli.