1 Samuel 2:30, “…for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
Every day, we make decisions about our day. People wake from sleep and start their day by deciding what they will do with the options they have. Some have a few simple decisions to make and others may have a more complex day that will require them to make more decisions. What each of us decides declares or manifests what we consider to be the priorities of our life. It is just a fact, whatever we decide to do with our time tells those around us what is important to us at that moment in our lives.
Considering the context of our study verse, we’ve read about a man named Eli, who was very old and had two sons named Hophni and Phinehas (see 1 Samuel 2:22 and 1 Samuel 2 34). The two sons of Eli were disobedient to God to say the least, and are called “sons of Belial” in 1 Samuel 2:12 (which means one who lives after the example of the wicked world). In the narrative, Eli would not obey God and correct his sons, but rather suffered them to go throughout Israel sinning and spreading their sin. Eli had failed to honour God in his actions and behavior (Eli’s sons were more important to him than the commands of God). 1 Samuel 2:30 begins by saying, “Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith,…” The Lord would then say “…for them that honour me I will honour…”
In the 1924 Olympic Games there was a 100 and a 200 meter race candidate named Eric Liddell. Born in Scotland, the British runner was well known for being the fastest man in these races. But when he was asked to compete in a race on Sunday, Eric Liddell declined and dropped out of the 100 and 200 meter competitions, sighting his service to God was more important to him than a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Everyone, including Eric Liddell himself, thought the Olympics was over for the British athlete but an opportunity became available in the 400 meter competition. But was Eric Liddell able to compete at a high level in this longer race? That was a question many pondered and many thought to be an impossible task. Eric Liddell was basically written off by many as not having a chance. But Eric Liddell won a Gold medal at the 1924 Olympic Games 400 meter race turning in a remarkable record time of 47.6 seconds. Refusing to compromise his devotion to God, the Lord blessed him to be able to compete and with the physical strength to win a race many thought would be impossible for him to win. A story was told that an American athlete placed a note in Liddell’s hand after the race that read “them that honour me I will honour.”
I was recently asked to preach a meeting for another Primitive Baptist Church outside of our state of North Carolina. I tried to speak on the subject of “esteem” during one of those services. My question at the beginning of the effort was, “What do we hold in high esteem?” I told the story about Eric Liddell not knowing that there were some young men in the congregation who were also scheduled to be at a cross country event during the time they were at the particular church service. The young men were at Church that day thinking they may not make the team by choosing to be at Church rather than attending the event. I didn’t know about all of this until after the meeting when the young men’s grandpa let me know that their coach called and told them they had made the team. The two boys told their grandpa the Lord taught them a lesson, put God first and He will take care of the rest. The two young men honoured God and God blessed them.
As many of you already know, I enjoy coaching kids soccer. The Piedmont Recreation Department gave me an opportunity this season to coach the 11/12 coed team. The kids are great and I have enjoyed watching them get better and better this season. Now at the end of the season I’ve been asked to coach a tournament game on Sunday morning at 11 am. My answer? No. If the Lord blesses me with good health, I will be at Union Grove Primitive Baptist Church on Sunday. And my hope is that everyone will see the Lord and His Church is a priority in my life. Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in a world where the people, through television, media and the example of the world, have been desensitized to the guilt and sorrowfulness of putting everything before our service to God. Our nation is very different than it once was because of this. Just ask the older people in your family if they remember a day when it would have been broadly frowned upon for opening a business on Sunday morning. Just ask those same people if there was a time when children’s sporting events would have never been scheduled for Sunday mornings. Things have changed, but not for the better. This may be the reason our nation and communities is (are) suffering such moral decline. Everything today comes before the Lord and His service. We are not able to answer for everyone around us, but only for ourselves and our house (family). As I ponder all of this, I am reminded of the words of Joshua the saint of God who said, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I pray those words will find a resting place in all our hearts that we all may be a better example to those around us. Trusting the Lord to bless us that we may know with assurance, “them that honour me I will honour.” Amen!