Summary: Training and proper discipline based on love will result in a family that will be a true testimony of God's grace. And the buck stops with you, dad! You are the one who will stand before a holy God and answer for the way your children are raised.


1 SAMUEL 2-4

A father of five children had won a toy at a he called his kids together to decide which one of them should get the present. So he asked them, "Who is the most obedient... who never talks back to your mother...who does everything she says?" All five voices said together - "If that's the case dad, you play with it."

I guess for some, being a good dad has a lot to do with how they respond to mom. Theodore Hesburgh said, "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." I could never stress enough the importance of that statement...but I don't think it's the most important thing a father can do.

I have no doubt that many of you had what would be termed "good" fathers. They made sure all your basic needs were met like food, clothing and shelter. Many spent a reasonable amount of time with you...and hopefully treated your mother with respect.

But what really makes a good father - biblically? What is the standard for determining how we'll be rated by the Heavenly Father when we stand before Him and give account for what we've done as a father. I want to look at a man in Scripture that I believe parallels many of the men I run into in the course of my ministry and life experience.

The man's name is Eli, and he was the spiritual leader of Israel during this particular time. The story is found in 1 Samuel chapters 2-4. As we pick up the story of Eli we find that he was 98 years old, and he'd been the priest for many years...but God was about to replace him.

Now, we need to see that Eli was a man who had many excellent qualities. He was a moral man. In all his years we find no record of terrible sins. He didn't drink, steal, lie or swear. He never committed adultery, or abused his children.

In fact, his treatment of Samuel was very kind, especially under the circumstances. Eli knew that Samuel would be his replacement as spiritual leader of Israel...and yet there's no trace of jealousy.

Instead, when Samuel revealed God's judgment against Eli, the old man responded quietly and submissively and said, "He is the Lord...let Him do what is good in His eyes." It's also clear that the old man had a deep love for the ark of God, which symbolized God's presence.

When the ark was carried into battle, Eli's heart feared for it (4:13). And when he heard that the ark had been captured, he fell off his seat, broke his neck, and died. Right to his death he was a man deeply concerned about the things of God. And yet, Eli was a miserable failure both as a father and a priest. He knew God, and yet God pronounced judgment on him and his descendants. Read 2:27-36...and 3:14

Now that's what I call a very serious pronouncement. What an awful thing to happen to this man who was clearly such a "good" man. "WHY?" Two clues point to the answer. The first is found in 2:30..."Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained." The second clue is found in 2:35..."I will raise up for myself a faithful priest"

Eli was an unfaithful priest who despised the Lord. How? Simple...He was a passive father! God told him that He would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about...his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.

Now look at v. 23-24 READ

Didn't Eli correct his sons? Not really. He did what so many men do today. In effect he said, "Now boys, you shouldn't do these things...people are talking." But it was much too little...and much too late.

A good man? Yes, very good. But he didn't have enough backbone to stand up to his sons and say, "We're not going to tolerate your sin around here. And the same principle applies today..."If you are passive as a father toward the things of God, it'll damage both you and your family.

Now, just so there's no confusion, let me explain what it means to be passive. First, being passive means having religion without reality. Eli was immersed in religion. He not only worked in the temple...he lived there. But the reality of walking with God in a personal way was completely absent from his life.

Eli was tolerant of personal and family sin...but he was harsh on the sins of others. When he thought Hannah was drunk in the tabernacle, he quickly confronted her. But when his own sons were committing adultery in the tabernacle, it wasn't until people started complaining that Eli came out with his feeble, "Now boys, you shouldn't do that."

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