Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 25, 2016
[God] told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 1 Samuel 3:13
If I say I love someone, but I do not lovingly address their bad behavior—I do not love them in the way God wants me to love them. If I say to myself it is none of my business—I cop out— because love makes it its business to help people not self destruct. Love addresses bad behavior early and often—to help a friend or family member’s habit not become addictive and destructive. To ignore and act as if bad attitudes or actions will go away is unloving and irresponsible. To engage relationally and make constant emotional deposits earns the right to discuss what’s right.
We do not know for sure the relationship Eli had with his two sons Hophni and Phinehas while they were small children. Perhaps the dad traveled doing ministry work or maybe when Eli was home he was directive and not very instructive with his children. However the home culture—the adult sons ambushed their father’s values and expectations. They treated the sacrifices to God with contempt and they sexually seduced women who sought to serve the Lord. The elderly Eli confronted his sons with their wickedness, but it was too little too late for judgment was coming.
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
Parenting is not for the faint of heart, but the opportunities for effective parenting come from a heart of love that learns how to emotionally engage the heart of the child. For example, help your child understand why they had their feelings hurt by an insensitive schoolmate. Show them how to process anger into forgiveness and pray with them to receive their heavenly Father’s grace to heal their heart. The beginning of bad behavior can be acting out feelings of being misunderstood, embarrassed or rejected. An emotionally healthy child learns to process pain.
First confess bad behavior in yourself, so you are qualified to humbly address it in others. Followers of Jesus have higher behavioral expectations than non-Christians. A person who claims to be a Christian but does not behave like a Christian, needs a kind reminder of who their attitudes, actions and words represent: JESUS CHRIST. A person may not suddenly change, but over a prayerful process of comforting, confronting and speaking the truth in love—a heart can be transformed by God’s grace. Help a struggling friend by paying for their first few sessions with a Christian counselor. Invite them into a small group of other hearts hungry for God.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41-42).
PrayerHeavenly Father, with a humble heart and by Your grace—make clean, my sinful heart.
ApplicationWhom do I need to lovingly confront about their bad behavior?
Related Reading1 Corinthians 15:33-34; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 10:25-26; Titus 1:1
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