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The Sin of Doing Nothing

March 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-36

  • This time we are looking at Eli.
  • There seem to be 2 ways of living here – Eli’s way or his son’s way – but both, we will find out, got it wrong.
  • The sons are flagrantly wicked – they are greedy bullies who take things and women for their own gratification. This is not unusual in our day.
  • Eli seems the polar opposite – the “nice” guy, the “good” guy. He is effectively in charge of Israel – the closest to a king in that day.
  • When God sends a rebuke, He sends it not to the 2 sons but to Eli – because Eli is responsible and held responsible. A shocking speech is delivered to Eli – fierce prophetic judgement. But why? Eli didn’t do anything! That is exactly why – he did nothing and that is what he is rebuked for.
  • If we’re not in the camp of the 2 sons we think we are “good”, because we’re not doing anything.
  • We think there are 2 ways of living – the “wicked” way or the “good” religious way. We think we can placate God through religious acts – but we can’t.
  • There is the sin of commission but also the sin of omission – not doing the right thing. Eli’s failure is omission.
  • But didn’t Eli try to sort his sons out? The hint is in the language he uses – he only really cares about people’s opinions, about the public reputation of him and his family rather than the honour of God.
  • We often do the same to keep our conscience clear – we speak out against bad things and show off our disapproval. But there is a huge difference between disapproving or complaining about something and actually doing something about it.
  • “Tear your hearts and not your clothes” was a familiar saying of the prophets.
  • Eli’s story is a massive warning to us.
  • Eli is so different to Christlike people of the Bible, e.g. Job. Job 1:15 – Job wants to honour God in every way he can.
  • V.29 – Eli is probably in on the deal of the stolen meat – it’s inconvenient for him to change things because there is gain for him in it. Similarly, we let things persist that shouldn’t because we gain from them.
  • V.29 – God asks Eli why he honours his sons about Him.
  • There is something at the root of all of our decisions.
  • It is possible to dishonour God through respectable, religious ways – like Eli did.
  • Many things we put before God sound right and respectable.
  • If you make anyone else into a god – such as your kids – and put them first above God, you will actually harm them. God needs to be first always.
  • Sometimes we disobey God because we’re frightened of hurting other people – but we’re trying to play God.
  • Kids, marriage, etc can all take us away from putting God first. The idol of popularity can also squeeze honouring God out of the picture.
  • Eli probably wanted his sons to like him and so put them first – ironically though, they don’t like him and don’t listen to him.
  • We are made to show the world what God is like – to be His representatives.
  • What is happening on your watch, under your radar? In other words, what are you allowing to happen?
  • Matt. 10:34-39 – Jesus is kind enough to show us that anything else we put in the place of God will harm and destroy us.
  • Worship is like petrol – you wouldn’t give it to your kids, but only your car. Similarly, you need to give worship to the right source – God.
  • To dishonour God is a dangerous thing – there is nothing worse than God dishonouring you, giving up on you and not speaking to you. You could even be saved and yet still dishonour God for years.
  • How do we honour God? It is neither the evil or the religious way.
  • Only one person truly has honoured God – Jesus. It comes from the heart – loving righteousness and doing the right thing, utterly focused on honouring God above all else.
  • This is a gift given to us by Jesus – we cannot do it ourselves. This is the third way to live – coming to Jesus and receiving His grace to live.
  • Jesus died and rose again for us to give us a new life and new heart that loves righteousness. We partner with Him – He is a loving Master who helps at every stage and transforms us by His power.