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   LIGHTLY ESTEEMED
                                                                                                                                         By Thea Spitz

                                                                         … for them that honor me I will honor, 
                                                                       and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed
                                                                                                                                       1 Samuel 2:30
 
 

Recently, I was saddened to hear of a Christian couple who permitted their son to have his girlfriend move into their home and sleep with him in his bedroom. The parents were grieved but said, "What can you do? He is legally an adult and can do what he wants." The parents were reluctant to tell the son and his girlfriend to leave their house because he was a college student, and moving out would mean the end of his education, and in their words, "Would ruin his life."

Theirs was a Christian home. Anyone invited on a short tour of the parent's house could see devotion to Jesus. His picture was in every room, and several little scripture signs proclaimed that this was a house in which the Lord was welcomed. One wall hanging in particular proclaimed, "As for me and my house – we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 ". 

Although they were grieved at the situation, the parents tried to go on about their business as usual. They attended church together and pursued the areas of service assigned to them. He was a deacon and an usher, and she taught the toddlers in Children's church and regularly sang in the choir. They were serious Christians and no one could ever say that there was anything lacking about their relationship with the Lord.

But somehow things were not the same, and the parents wondered why there seemed to be a wall between themselves and the Lord whom they loved. Prayer was becoming more and more difficult and actually seemed futile, as the intimacy they had known with God just wasn't present the way it was before. What was wrong? 

The parents spoke to the church leadership about the vague feeling that a separation existed, but they did not mention the changes that had taken place in their home. They were advised that everyone goes through a "dry spell" now and then, and what they needed to do was just press in to the Lord - and so they did. They prayed diligently – especially about the sinful presence of the young woman in their son's bedroom. They fasted a day or two and even experimented with spiritual warfare, binding the "spirit of fornication" that apparently held their son captive. They prayed that he would repent and be restored to his Christian walk, and that the girl would "get saved". (Everyone in the household now referred to the girl as the son's "fiancée". Somehow changing the reference legitimized the situation and made fornication appear less like sin in front of the neighbors – and praise God - they did not attend the same church.)

The parents did their best to talk with them both, and present the gospel. Surely God would honor their prayers and maybe the "fiancée" would move out! But every night, the door to the bedroom was closed and the love for the Lord, once evident in their son's eyes was becoming dimmer with every passing week. Soon he expressed serious doubts concerning the truth of the Bible, and proclaimed it to be an antiquated book of obscure cultural traditions. 
 

The nature of the prayers of the parents changed too. Soon they found themselves asking the Lord to give them "good coping skills" regarding their son and his live in "fiancée" since there always seemed to be quarrels and shouting in the home. 

It wasn't long before the hostilities spread from the young people to the husband and wife. One time they actually quarreled for more than a week over whether to ask their son to leave the home. The wife offered the concept that a possible reason for why their prayers were not being answered had to do with the sinful arrangement they were permitting right in their own home. She found a scripture in the Psalms that read: " If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18)". She told her husband that perhaps he ought to step in and tell their son either the "fiancée" needed to leave or they both needed to leave because what they were doing was sin. The husband thought about that for a while, but when he considered how hard it was to make a living in the world today he dismissed the thought of giving them an ultimatum. Visions of future financial struggle and unskilled manual labor jobs flooded his mind; the thought of his only son not completing college was more than he could bear.

The husband decided he would just speak to his son and ask him why he was doing this thing; but when that private conversation came to pass, the young man protested. "You're judging me!"  "That is so - not showing me Christian love", he shouted. "What kind of a father are you? What kind of a Christian are you? Doesn't it say, Judge Not that ye be not judged?" The father walked away hurt that his son had rejected him, and accused him of being a bad father and a bad Christian. He was angry with his wife who had put him in a confrontational position 
 

There had to be a way out of this situation. Perhaps he could help the kids out by renting another place for them and helping them financially until they could make it on their own. That thought was dismissed when a short excursion into the "for rent" section of the classifieds proved it would be impossible for the two young people to maintain their own place and continue as full time students even if the parents underwrote the initial cost. He could help them out for a while, but that plan would not work in the long run. (He also knew that his wife would say if they paid the rent, they would still be responsible for that household too. They would be directly contributing to the support of sin.) He decided that as parents, they would just have to learn how to cope, and bear with it for the next few years until their son graduated. 
 

He decided to speak with his wife and repeat those things his son had said to him – since they proved so successful in dismantling his own resolve. He would tell her she should, "stop being so judgmental" and show more Christian love. After all, what their son was doing was no more than what all the college kids do now a days, including some claiming to be Christians. At least their son was at home with them where they could supervised and make sure that they practiced "safe sex". No sir, there would never be a cause for an abortion is his family! 
 

His wife needed to be confronted! Where was her faith? Hadn't they prayed together in unity about the situation? No matter what the Bible said, it was not the two of them regarding iniquity in their heart. The Lord should not hold it against THEM! There must be another reason for the "dry spell" in their prayer life, and the bickering in the house. Yes, maybe their son was in sin, but then think about all those Biblical characters that kept concubines. Maybe what he is doing isn't so wrong after all. Perhaps it was just the constraints put upon us by an up-tight and puritanical culture. Something left over from another time that was no longer relevant to life in the twenty-first century. "Christians had to change with the times if we are to reach the unsaved," he said to himself. Eventually he was sure that God would honor their prayers; the fiancée would get saved, they will get married and everything will be O.K. 
 

The father was glad that he decided to accept the situation and he was sure that deep down he felt at peace about it. It felt good to feel good again. If his wife made any further protest about the living arrangements, he now had a plan. He was sure he was in God's will because it felt so good! He was determined to fight scripture with scripture and so prepared to meet his wife on the field of verbal combat. He would claim that verse that said something about everyone in your house would be saved. Yeah, he'd keep her in check with that one if she made any further protest.
 
 

                                                   THE CONFLICT
 


Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 1Tim 5:20

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3


 

The parents in the above account made a choice that clearly spoke to the Lord.

         "Lord, our son is more important to us than honoring you and your Word!" 

Sadly, the problem they faced is not uncommon among Christians. How we choose to proceed in tests like these exposes just how devoted to the Lord we really are. The following story is taken from the book of 1 Samuel and is very similar to the situation faced by the parents you have already met. Eli was a descendant of Aaron’s through his son Ithamar, and was the presiding priest in the Tabernacle of the Congregation of the Lord for over forty years. He was also a father confronted with the sin of his unsaved sons. What he did or didn't do about it effected all of his offspring - generation after generation. 

Here is Eli's story. 

1Samuel 2:12-17, 36
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 

THE SINS OF THE SONS:

And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.

Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.

Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
 

[The first of the sins mentioned was one of sacrilege. They did not value the things of the Lord and used their position as priests merely to make a living. The lived in the house of the Lord, and were provided for in the same manner as the college student in the first account. They declined to do it "God's way" however, and the comment of the scripture in verse 17 states that the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord.]
 

ELI KNEW ALL ABOUT THEIR SIN:

1 Samuel 2:22-25

Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD's people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
 

[The second sin was one of immorality. They were fornicating with the women who served at the door of the Tabernacle of the Lord. Eli was fully aware of their sin and instead of removing them from their service, he weakly asks them why they were doing this – as if there is a logical explanation for sin.

Eli is fully culpable because he knows that the sin is against the Lord. The offenses committed by Hophni and Phineas were so great that the Lord wanted to kill them!    The Lord does not do things without revealing His Word first and so an unnamed prophet confronts Eli]
 

1 Samuel 2: 27-29

And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
 

[The Lord calls it what it is – honoring the sons above Him! The sin of Eli is the same as the sin of the parents in the first story – Idolatry!]
 

JUDGMENT FOLLOW SIN:

1 Samuel 2: 30-31

Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
 

[Eli and therefore his sons, were descendants of Aaron through Ithamar. After the judgment of the Lord, the priestly line was transferred by the death of his family to the descendants of another son of Aaron, Eleazer. Eli paid a hefty price for his failure to preserve the honor of the Lord.]
 
 

                                                        PRIORITIES
 

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12: 30

 

Each of us, as servants of the Lord, needs to examine our priorities and carefully remember that in all things, the Lord MUST come first. We have become careless in the things of God, permitting all kinds of abominations to exist in our homes so that confrontation may be avoided and that our plans as we see them will come to a successful conclusion. In some cases that same attitude of pragmatism has allowed sin to persist in leadership within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is easier for us to tolerate sin than it is to stand completely on the Word of God. 

Like Eli, and the father in the first story, we shrink from confrontation because we want to be liked and we don't want to make our children feel bad. We shrivel in our resolve to honor the Lord when we are accused of being judgmental. The enemy of the Lord uses that term as a "buzz word" in our generation and for some reason it instills fear in the believer. Our self-image has become more important than the holiness of God. Jesus said this:
 

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 10: 32-39


 
 

Take a second look, believer – The Word clearly outlines what is sin and what is righteousness, and if we are in anywise confused, we have full access to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will not lead us into sin but we are lead away of our own lust. Lust is a word that means an inordinate desire for something. Often that particular lust is to be liked. 

We have no control over the things of the world or even our neighbor's house, but we should have control over our own and it is our responsibility to honor the Lord in everything, EVERYTHING we do. Selah! (Think about it!)
 
 

 OTHER SELECTIONS BY THIS AUTHOR

1-  Tubal Ligation and Vasectomy

2- From Sea to Shining Sea       reprinted from Life Advocate Magazine

3- The Land of "I've Got Mine"   reprinted from Life Advocate Magazine