Being Accountable

 

1 SAMUEL 2: 22-33
22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25 If one person sins against another, God[d] may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.
26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.
27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites.29 Why do you[e] scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling?Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’
30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age, 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.
     The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines accountability as an “obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” In 1 Samuel 2, we learn the very sad story of Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Although they were priests, the behavior of Eli’s sons were reprehensible at best. Despite public complaints and a warning from God, Eli refused to hold his sons responsible for their behavior and allowed to them to continue in their duties. This lack of accountability brought destruction to his family and the tribes of Israel.
Unfortunately, it seems that we live in a time when more and more people are imitating Eli when it comes to accountability. Indeed being loyal has taken precedence over keeping individuals in our lives accountable. The reasons for our choosing loyalty over accountability vary. It can be political partisanship, money, denominational allegiances, career advancement, family or self-preservation. Nonetheless, the story of Eli and his sons is a stark reminder that none of the aforementioned issues should compromise our integrity or allegiance to God.
Like it or not, Republicans and Democrats can sin just like everyone else. Pastors and priests can sin just like everyone else. It’s embarrassing when Christians blatantly make excuses for the sins of politicians who share their political affiliations. It’s even more embarrassing when pastors, priests or musicians are allowed to remain in position when caught committing unethical acts; especially when those acts carry criminal implications. We simply cannot allow our relationships with one another to make us turn a blind eye when our behaviors conflict with the teachings of Christ.
Yes, everyone is entitled to grace and mercy. Moreover, I thank God for God’s expansive patience and forgiveness towards us. However, we must not forget that repentance and reconciliation are significant requirements for true forgiveness.
We live in a chillingly divisive and stressful time. Yet, all of us have people whom we love and hold deep allegiance to. Nevertheless, the most loyal thing we could ever do for someone is to help them stay within the will of God and make it into heaven. If we truly love each other, then let us walk together, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, with true accountability and integrity.
May God Bless You!

 

Cecil Lettsome

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