Lesson Seven • Devotion #1: Eli
“The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”
I had heard that phrase before and had a vague idea as to its meaning. It is the same sentiment behind why the plumber’s house has water leaks or the auto mechanics personal cars are held together with Duct Tape and chicken wire. Business strategist Nicholas de Wolff captures it this way, “It has been my experience that the statement refers to the tendency to excel at providing services to the “outside world,” while neglecting to observe that their immediate intimate ecosystem (family, self, home, friends…etc.) is in need of said services.”
As we continue with the world changers, we read of a man that portrayed just that. Eli was privileged to be both the high priest of Shiloh and the second to last Israelite judge. He was a good man tasked with the responsibility as the supreme religious leader. The high priest had to be bold and unafraid to rebuke and hold the people accountable to the standards God set forth. He exercised proper authority over the people, yet sadly failed to exercise the authority needed to reign in his children. He provided his service to the “outside world” as Wolff stated but neglected to provide the same authority to his “immediate intimate ecosystem.”
Eli’s sons were not good boys. The Bible even goes so far as to call them worthless (probably not something you would want to be written about your kids for the rest of history). Eli delighted in the Lord’s service but lacked parental authority. In 1 Samuel 2:22-25 we have this account, “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” It seems that Eli only reasoned with his sons rather than rebuking them as he should have. He was faulty for honoring his children above the Lord. Like many of us, maybe he was more interested in maintaining a relationship with his family rather than honoring the Lord with his calling.
How many of us are going to be as guilty as Eli? How many of us will lack the righteous indignation to call out sin and rebuke it with the fervency it needs? My prayer is that whether we are dealing with our biological families or the family of God, we would be willing to, with the love of Christ, deal appropriately with it and them.
And remember, always be sure your children have shoes.