When Loved Ones Sin
I Samuel 2:12, 17 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD…. Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
I Samuel 2:29 “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?”
Eli was a priest and leader in ancient Israel. He was chosen by God to mentor Israel’s great prophet Samuel. Yet he was a grossly ineffective spiritual leader in his own family. His sons Hophni and Phinehas were also priests, but were wicked, causing the people to “[abhor] the offering of the Lord.”
Samuel himself apparently didn’t learn his lesson from Eli, as Samuel’s two sons “did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:3). Then we have King David, who was only “very angry” at his son Amnon after he raped Tamar, which led to the rise of this rebellious son Absalom, whom David mourned over so much after Absalom’s defeat that the discouraged kingdom nearly rose up in another coup attempt.
It’s hard when loved ones sin, especially members of our own family. We have such a tight loyalty that we tend to either overlook sinful behavior, or simply justify it. Sometimes our own moral code gets compromised. We don’t want to rock the boat or challenge anyone, so we subconsciously rearrange what we call right and wrong. When we do this, we not only injure ourselves spiritually, but we take ourselves out of the place where we can be effective in helping them.
When people struggle with this, they tend to bounce toward the extremes, saying they don’t want to be judgmental and unloving, and want to keep relationship; or they simply let a righteous fear of God slide away into the vat of tolerance. Neither path is a godly one.
We are strongly challenged when a loved one falls away, especially when they still self-identify as believers with just a “slightly different” theology or “progressive views” on a matter. Our call is always to love, which in these situations calls on us to lean heavily on the Lord. To genuinely love when not approving of sin is only possible through His strength and wisdom.
But our call is also to pray, and this is where we find our peace, where we receive our wisdom for the situation, and the one place we can be truly effective in changing things. Most of us tend to think—trying to “work things out” in our head instead of praying, so we lose these benefits. If we love, we need to pray.
It’s heartbreaking and painful to live in this kind of circumstance. But God has strength and wisdom for it. He can also change things if we take our hands off, pray with faith, and love as He directs us to show it.
Prayer: Father, this is a hard one. Show me a new place where Your love replaces earthly tolerance of sin, and show me how to pray for the situation. Thank You that in You, I can be at peace, knowing that You have this in Your hands.