27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
(1 Samuel 2:27-36)
Yesterday we studied how God had originally promised Eli that his family line would serve God forever but due to the sinful behavior of Eli and his sons, God was removing that privilege because their service failed to honor Him.
This isn’t any different from our modern-day employment arrangements. If any one of us were to get hired by a company we could work there as long as we wanted (assuming no economic or financial difficulties that would result in our being laid off). As long as our service to our employer met or exceeded expectations, we could have that job forever.
However, if our actions hurt our employer we could be, if those actions were serious enough, fired and rightfully so. An employee who embezzles money from a company forfeits her right to work at that company. An employee who does a poor job should lose his job. We accept such things in our culture.
God works the same way. He will honor those who honor Him. But those who despise Him will be lightly esteemed.
Hophni and Phinehas brought dishonor to God. In fact, they didn’t even know the Lord. Their actions demonstrated that they cared nothing for Him. As such, God did not honor them.
The dictionary definition of the verb “to honor” is “to regard with great respect”. To honor God means we respect Him – we treat Him not only well, but better than ourselves. We sacrifice our own desires for the sake of His.
The true story of Olympian Eric Liddell makes this point. At the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Liddell – a devout Christian – withdrew from his best event, the 100 meters, because it was to be run on a Sunday. Instead, he ran in the 400 meters, a race in which he had only recorded mediocre results.
On the morning of the 400-meters race Liddell was handed a note containing a reference to 1 Samuel 2:30. Buoyed by this encouragement, Liddell went on to not only win the race, but he set a world record in the event. His story was made into an Academy-Award winning movie, Chariots of Fire.
There are many ways we can honor God. We honor God by giving Him our money [Proverbs 3:9]. We honor God by being sexually pure [1 Corinthians 6:18–20]. We honor God by serving Him [John 12:26]. And we honor God by keeping His sabbath as Eric Liddell did [Isaiah 58:13].
But we must be careful not to simply honor God with our words without backing up those words with actions. God isn’t interested in pretenses. God wants our hearts [Isaiah 29:13].
A pastor at a church I used to attend put it this way: “Would you want your actions posted on the front page of the newspaper?”. That was a long time ago when people still read newspapers. Today, we’d ask if we’d want our actions posted on Facebook or Twitter.
The best way to go through life is to do all for the glory of God [2 Corinthians 5:9]. When we’re tempted to sleep with our boyfriend or girlfriend we should first ask ourselves if our behavior will bring honor to God. When we’re tempted to pad our timesheet at work, we should first ask ourselves if our behavior will honor God.
If it won’t then we shouldn’t do it.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.