1 Samuel 3:9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
This was perhaps the high point of Eli’s ministry, the moment at which he best fulfilled the Lord’s purposes for him. He was a very poor priest, bringing judgment on himself and his household by his failure to train up his sons as he should have, but in this moment he steered Samuel rightly, and all Israel, and indeed all posterity, has benefited. We don’t know God’s plans, but sometimes He uses one person largely to bring out another person. That doesn’t mean the first person is unimportant. It’s fairly well known that Billy Graham was the only person to respond at an evangelistic meeting when he was a young man, and the evangelist thought he was a failure. The whole world knows the result of that story! Eli was by most counts a failure indeed, but he was used by God to encourage Hannah’s faith and to nurture Samuel in seeking God – more than he himself sought God! I don’t think he failed to receive the reward for that, despite his failures. None of us knows exactly how we ourselves will be judged by God, so how foolish of us is it for us to go around judging others? We aren’t to excuse sin, but neither are we to condemn. We are to lift people up to God for Him to use them, dealing with their sins and healing their wounds. That’s His job and not ours. Sometimes He uses us in the process, particularly in healing, but it’s not anything we can do on our own.
As a pastor, this is a particularly sensitive issue for me. I am to teach and admonish, and even at times to discipline, but I am never to do it from some kind of high horse. I must always be aware of my own weaknesses, walking humbly before my Lord. As Paul said, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4) I am to repent of my sins the moment I become aware of them, keeping my conscience clear as Paul did, but not thinking that makes me better than others. I am also not to dump on myself, thinking I’m a failure. Someone God has touched through me could end up being as mighty in the Kingdom as Billy Graham! I am to rejoice in the grace of God and be at peace with my own total dependence on that grace.
Father thank you for this clear reminder. Help me indeed be faithful in the tasks You have for me, not avoiding them or making excuses, but not putting myself down, either. May I indeed be a useful tool in Your hands, just as You had me talk about in the message on Sunday, so that Your purposes may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!