What Makes a Difference? 

Grow • Devotion #1: What Makes a Difference? 
Ryan Story | Location Pastor – Burton

I have always struggled with one story in the Bible. More than trying to understand the Nephilim, Predestination, or even the Holy Trinity, I have always struggled with the understanding of why people choose to walk away from God. Whenever truth is being told like that of Judas Iscariot, the rich young ruler, or Demas, I yearn for more information. I am over analytical, so I am always looking for the commonality of those who have every opportunity to see how real God is and yet they seem to walk away.

Take some time to read the first four chapters of 1 Samuel. In the first two chapters of 1 Samuel we see Hannah crying to the Lord and asking for a son. When God gives her Samuel, she promises God that Samuel would live with Eli. It says in 1 Samuel 2:11, “Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.”At this point, God begins to use Samuel. Samuel would grow to be the last judge of Israel, a prophet of God, and the teacher of the first two kings of Israel. Samuel goes down for all eternity as a man that God used in many ways. However, the man who was at the beginning of Samuel’s walk with God was a man named Eli.

We know Eli was a priest, and he loved God. The saddest thing about Eli is that within one verse, we see a fantastic contrast. Verse 12 says, “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.”Eli’s two sons were Hophni and Phinehas. If you read your Bible, you will see that the sons were wicked. They abused their family’s position for their good. These men were known for stealing food from the offerings. I cannot think of a worse fate than the eternal Word of God describing me as “worthless.” Eli’s sons never have that redemption moment; they are never seen in any favorable light. This is what drives me crazy, what makes the difference in a persons walk with God? Samuel, Hophni, and Phinehas all likely had the same teacher in Eli. They all probably lived in the same place. My brain runs in thousands of directions trying to figure out what made the difference between Eli’s sons and Samuel.

Growing in your walk with God is the single most important act you can do. It says in 1 Timothy 4:8,“Godliness is of value in every way.” While I still struggle finding out the truth behind what made Eli’s sons wicked, I feel the difference rests on one truth. The major difference between Eli’s sons and Samuel was how each of them viewed the offering of God. Hophni and Phinehas viewed the offering as a means to their success. While I cannot say for certain, but I feel Samuel understood the offering as a means of making God’s renowned known. One side looked at the offering to God as a “what can I get” and the other had a “what can I give” attitude. Samuel was able to see how vital an offering to God was. Eli’s sons could not see the value.

To grow in our walk with God, we must first see the value in the ultimate offering, which is Jesus. Until we value Jesus’ offering Himself on the cross for our sins, we will always be out of sync with God.

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