Today from pastor and Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll. This is a wake-up message for some of you. Wake up to your responsibilities. As a parent, they long for the boundaries. They long for your love. They long to know the security of your life and lifestyle. Observe, listen, pray, think, talk with them.
Wake up! Erosion happens while we're all asleep. When a marriage falls apart, it's rarely the outcome of one massively poor choice. It's usually a series of small harmful decisions that occur over a long period of time. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues a three-day presentation that specifically deals with this erosive progression and how to guard against it. Whether it's your marriage you need to protect or your relationship with your children and grandchildren, there's something practical in today's program for everyone. Chuck is teaching from 1 Samuel chapter 1.
He titled today's message, Danger Signs of Marital Erosion. Maybe you've never met Eli. The first mention of him in all the Bible is chapter 1 verse 9, where we're told in the book of 1 Samuel that Eli is sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. It's where people and authority sat who judged and who led those of that day. He's a priest. He's the high priest. Chapter 4 verse 18, we just read earlier, tells us that he judged Israel for 40 years.
So this is no fly-by-night leader. He's been at it for decades. And his children, his boys have seen him growing up. All of their early years, their daddy was the judge.
Let's meet his sons. They too were priests. If you can believe it, verse 3 of chapter 1, I wish I could give all of this in one simple section of Scripture, but you've got to go back and forth in these first four chapters, so bear with me here.
We're building toward a case. Verse 3, the two of his sons of Eli were Hophni and Phinehas. They were priests to the Lord there. So they're younger priests. Their daddy is the high priest.
What kind of boys are they? 12 of chapter 2 just comes to the bottom line. The sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. They're not the last preacher or priest to serve a church who didn't know the Lord. Eli is so out of touch, these boys are out of control and he's going right on with his judging and preaching and leading. It can happen.
Now let me pause for a caveat here. Sometime a dad does what he ought to be doing and the kids just go bad, okay? Kids have a will of their own. Let me just set that straight lest you think I'm not aware of it. Sometimes it's rare, but sometime a father is done all that could have been done and the kids turn out wrong.
More often than not, however, the dad is too busy, too involved, and therefore out of touch. Verse 12 makes it real clear in chapter 2 that they were worthless. Now that's a pretty strong word. We'd say in Texas, sorry. They're sorry couple of guys.
That's a Texas expression. God uses the word worthless. They have no plans to repent. They're too old now or they're too set. They're too stubborn to change. In fact, when their own father says something to them, they don't respect him. They turn against his reproof.
Verse 25 says they would not listen to the voice of their father. Eli in his half attempt to correct things a little late does not get the attention of his sons. And then there's a third boy. His name is Samuel.
He's not Eli's son. He's Hannah's. Hannah and Elkanah have had this boy. And Hannah promised if the Lord would give her a child, when she weaned him, she would bring him to Eli and she would have Eli mentor him as he would grow up there in that tabernacle. You know, maybe Hannah did not know the setting.
Maybe a lot of people for a long time didn't know. It can happen. Erosion is like that. These boys are making decisions behind the scenes and their lives are turning in the wrong direction. Samuel reminds me of a beautiful rose that grows and blooms over a cesspool, a flower that blossoms near a swamp. It's a bad environment, but the guy turns out great. He's never contaminated by the lives of Hophni and Phinehas. It just occurs that maybe by now Eli realizes that the other boys are too far to help.
Maybe his one chance is with Samuel and he pours himself into him. I don't know. What were the sins of the older sons? Well, no reason to linger here needlessly, but verse 17 of chapter 2 states the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord. They're cynical. To make matters worse, they became lustful, taking advantage of the women who would come for worship, if you can believe it. And before long, everybody knows about it. Verse 23, Eli, when talking to the boys, says, Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?
People are not talking. You can't live like that and think it's going to stay quiet. It's going to get back to the dad. Verse 24, No, my son, the report is not good, which I hear the Lord's people circulating. You see, Eli's being warned by different sources. He's got the people who came to worship telling him. Look at verse 27 of chapter 2. He's got an unnamed man of God, a prophet, who came to Eli and said, it gives him a little historical lesson on the people of the Hebrews and says to him in 29, Why do you kick at my sacrifice and at my offering, which I've commanded in my dwelling and honor your sons above me by making yourselves fat with the choice of every offering of my people Israel? That's how he got fat.
He fell into the trap of his own son's habit of eating more than they should and taking what they shouldn't. And now the Lord is reproving this dead, saying, You're beginning to look a lot like your sons. This is a good place for us to make this very practical. I say these next few words in no condemning manner and not directed to any one family. If I knew the family that needed to hear this, you and I would be talking privately. Personally, that's a pastor's responsibility.
But because I don't, I say these things publicly to all of us, you especially who are still rearing the young. Listen real closely. Let's identify the dangerous signs that were true way back then, and they're still true today. How can I know that there's mining going on at a distance that's causing my family to sink? What are the signs that could tell me this life is eroding?
What are the signs of danger? I'll give them to you simply two word statements, four of them. Number one, too busy. When you get too busy, you get preoccupied. Your work happens to the exclusion of the needs of your children.
We've talked about this before. Where was Eli during the formative years of his children growing up? He was busy at the gate of the city. He was busy about the offerings in the tabernacle. He was a high priest. Alexander White in his fine book on Bible characters says, Way back at the beginning of his life, Eli had taken far too much in hand. Eli was both chief judge and the high priest. In himself for the whole house of Israel, the ablest, the most laborious, the most devoted, the most tireless and sleepless of men could not have done what Eli undertook to do. And taking up what was beyond mortal power to perform, the certain result was that he did nothing well. Where was Eli when the boys were asking the hard questions? When the first glimpse of cynicism emerged from their tongue. Where was he when the first vulgar word was said?
Or the fist fight between the two of them or with one of the other boys they were playing with. Where was Eli? He's busy, busy about very important and respected work. Second, he's too dull, dull.
It's not a kind word but it's a true word. He's insensitive. Maybe the signs emerged but his mind was on that decision he had to make or he worked late that night and his wife decided she'd put it off and maybe he would handle it later. And while I say dull, I'd add he just didn't start early enough. He didn't start early enough.
Domestic erosion is never fast or loud or alarming. It just quietly works its subtle ways which brings me to the third. He's too slow. He failed to respond sufficiently to the warnings of others who genuinely cared. Why did he wait till their men to shake them by the shoulders? You know if you wait too long and you slap your sons you'll get punched back. It's not a smart thing to do.
It's a proverb that says the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. Too slow. You find signs of drugs. Don't wait. Don't blame. Step up.
You notice the beer bottles after the party? Look. Think.
There's no teacher at school with more authority than you to set the boundaries. You notice sassing their mother? Listen. Pay attention.
There's no youth worker that can stop that like you can. Our fathers sinned and are no more. Lamentations 5-7. It is we who have borne their iniquities. You get a phone call from a friend? Don't deny it.
Listen. Have trouble with the law? Don't blame the law.
The fourth, too easy. When he did rebuke them it was a hand slap. And a hand slap on a grown man is insulting.
It's not correcting. Be very, very careful. Don't ever forget you hear this.
You've heard this. Be very, very careful not to let your love for your sons or your daughters override your better judgment. Be very careful about that.
That's why he is rebuked by the Lord saying you honor your sons above me. Can I go one step further? That you're gracious enough to hear me out in this. Your son sent to jail. Don't quickly bail him out. Don't rush. Oh, be there.
But perhaps the consequences of being a night or two or three behind bars will be enough to scare him straight. Cynthia and I were a little surprised to hear as yesterday's news was broadcasting the report of a number of teachers who had been teaching for more than 20 years. They were interviewed asking the major source of the problem they deal with.
The consensus of opinion was the problem was not mainly with students or with administration. It was with parents. It was with parents who fight them for the authority.
Don't go there. So what are some lessons that all of this teaches? Again, at the risk of being overly simplistic, wake up. This is a wake up message for some of you.
Wake up to your responsibilities. As a parent, this will keep you in the minds of your children, their parents. They long for the boundaries. They long for your love. They long to know the security of your life and lifestyle.
They long, they just don't know how to put it into words. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Observe, listen, pray, think, talk with friends that you trust. Talk with them. Wake up.
Erosion happens while we're all sleeping or sleepy. Second, talk straight. I don't think I've ever met a kid that didn't appreciate straight talk.
Doesn't mean they listened, but they appreciate straight talk. Don't pussyfoot around. Don't be vague.
This is the role you're to fill. If you're concerned, say that. If you have questions, ask the hard questions. Talk straight about curfew. Talk straight about the choice of friends. Talk straight about dating. Talk straight about drugs and sex. We got ads on the television now that say you might want to discuss drugs. Oh, really?
I mean, duh, of course you want to. They're all over. They're in every high school. They're in every junior high school. They're on the streets.
It's available. Your son was going for a while to USC and he said when he got off the bus to walk that little distance from where he was let off in downtown L.A. to the campus of SC virtually every single day he was hit up with drugs. Virtually every day.
And that was in the 80s. Talk straight. Third, and I love this one, stay close. If you're not close, start getting close. If they don't want you close, wedge in. Find an avenue of unity with them and step into it. Begin with an apology. Tell them you're sorry you've been detached. Tell them you believe in them. You want a relationship with them that works. Tell them you've missed it and describe it. Most kids I know will forgive you in a heartbeat if you just say I'm sorry and spell out why. You don't have a relationship, build a new one.
It's never too late to start doing what is right. I was on a father-son fishing trip with a number of guys whose names you'd probably know and one of them was Jay Kessler who had come with his boys and I was there with ours. We were up in Canada. It was a delightful time together.
We laughed ourselves to sleep about every night. We had more fun fishing through the day. You'd fish in the morning, you'd eat what you caught at lunch. Some guys went a little hungry.
And then you'd fish in the afternoon and then you'd eat what you caught that night. It was just really, it was designed for nothing but just the kind of down time, tie pull loose. There was no ties as a matter of fact. Well, one guy wore one until we destroyed it. And then we, the best part was when the boys finally went to bed and the guys sat around to talk. All these dads. And then little by little dads would fall asleep and they'd leave and finally wound up one evening just Jay and me. The priceless moment. Jay had led the Youth for Christ ministry many, many, many years and then later president of Taylor University.
I don't know of anybody I respect more than Jay Kessler. Just dripping with wisdom. We got kind of quiet together and a little misty about our boys and knowing they were growing up and soon going to be gone. He said, Chuck, I'll tell you a story. And I've shared this story very rarely. He said, when I was leading a Youth for Christ group in another city, we had a fairly well-known evangelist who became really well-known, the name you'd know if I gave it to you. And he said he had two boys who went wild. He said they were the challenge of my life. They were the heartbreak of the Youth for Christ club. I mean, they were doing all the stuff that kids shouldn't be doing and I could never get the dad's attention.
He said we did our best with them. And boy, these guys just got out of control. Suddenly, daddy died. Just an abrupt death, unexpected. And said we did the funeral and these boys sat with their arms folded and stared.
Just seething with all kinds of feelings. He said a night passed and the following night, loud knock at the door. I got up and stumbled to the front door and opened. It was the middle of the night and here stood those two boys. Filthy. They had vomited all over themselves, drunk. Their pants were wet. He said come on in, you guys, what in the world are you doing?
They stumbled in, they're crying. He said we just urinated on our daddy's grave. We hate him.
We hate him. And Jay just put his arms around him and here they were in the mixture of confusion, anger, rebellion, loneliness and grief. And it never had been bridged. I said to Jay, he just told me with tears running out of his eyes, he said I honestly lost touch with them.
I don't know how they ever turned out. He said every time I remind myself of that, I think I need to just pass the story on so others will learn from it. Well, I'll never forget, I stayed awake half the rest of that night thinking about that. And I said to Jay, with your permission, I'm going to share that from time to time.
He said, yeah, that's fine. Just keep the names out of it. It's a true story. It isn't your story. I hope.
I hope it won't be my story. Wake up. Talk straight. Get close.
This is your only chance. There are times, our Father, we realize that suddenly it's just like you and each one of us in a room by ourselves. We do acknowledge the busyness of life. We confess to you that we've often made choices that weren't best for our family. But it just might be that nobody ever got our attention like you've gotten it today. And suddenly our schedule seems to pale and far less significant when we think about a life that will outlive ours.
People with our blood, our name, our flesh, who live on beyond us. I pray that we will indeed wake up, talk straight, and pull up close. I pray that we'll stop all rationalization just in case it may have started. That you will use this ancient story of this dear old guy just wound up out of touch. Teach us while we're still in our 30s and 40s and 50s and 60s. And if we've lost it there, may we make up for it with our grandchildren. Lord, help us, I pray, in the midst of a world that's lost its way.
To be a beacon of light in a community that's eroding. Each one of the families touched by this message, may it never be forgotten, I pray. May it make a difference in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I pray.
We all say, Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of Chuck Swindoll. He titled today's message, Danger Signs of Marital Erosion.
To learn more about this ministry, be sure to visit us online at insightworld.org. And then let me tell you about a book Chuck has written which parallels this teaching series. In fact, it shares the same title, Marriage from Surviving to Thriving. In his book, more than 200 pages in length, Chuck goes into greater detail on today's topic. And he includes seven other chapters on a wide variety of common issues. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash offer. Or call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888.
The title again is, Marriage from Surviving to Thriving. In the last several weeks, we've heard from thousands of friends from all around the world who've affirmed the value of these daily visits with Chuck. Many have told us they can trace their listening back 10, 20, 30 years and more.
It's wonderful to see what God has accomplished through this legacy of God's faithfulness. Someone left a note that read, thank you Pastor Chuck for your steadfastness, your willingness to be transparent, honest, human, and very open about issues I needed to hear. This person has been listening since 1983.
Well, we believe the best days are yet ahead as we deepen our friendship with partners like you. To give a donation today, call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. Or give a donation online at insight.org slash donate.
Join us when Chuck Swindoll explains how to stay young while your family grows older, Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Danger Signs of Marital Erosion, was copyrighted in 2005, 2006, and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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