As followers of God, there are no unimportant commands. Choosing to disregard or treat with contempt the Word of God is the same in God’s eyes as treating Him with contempt. We cannot say that we follow God and then choose when and how and which verses we will follow to what extent. When we set parameters upon our worship of God, we are choosing to worship ourselves and our wisdom rather than God. Hophni and Phineas thought they had a better way to worship, one that served them better and did not depend quite so much on the grace and provision of God.
As children, God placed us in the household we are in. Our parents were chosen by God for us, but they are not god. They aren’t perfect. They are going to make mistakes and have their own sin nature to lay before the Lord. Their failures are not an excuse for us to follow them and neglect following God, but they are also not a valid reason for us to treat them with contempt. Their sin nature is no more despicable than our own. We are prone to see the sin of others with so much more clarity than we see our own, but our responsibility is to repent of our sin not to make our priority the conviction of others. We are wise to follow Jesus’ admonition to “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In His wisdom, God understands that if we seek to remove the sin from our own life first, that will keep us much too busy to dwell on someone else’s failures.
As parents, we may wonder where Eli went wrong. Although he followed God devoutly, how did his sons take such a different path? God’s Word says that Eli honored his sons more than God, but it tells us that he confronted them about their sin. In his confrontation, we see a style of parenting that is pretty familiar today. It seeks to point out wrong-doing, but neglects to correct it. How many times do you see a parent in a mall repeating the same instruction to a child time after time, with the child blissfully ignoring the instruction without consequence? As parents, God has given us a sacred responsibility not only to raise children to adulthood, but to train them up in the way that they should go. To teach them the vital life lesson that there are consequences to our actions and that even when we say, “soooo-rrry,” that doesn’t always allow us to avoid the consequences of our actions.