“Why do you 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? Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: “I promised that your house and your father’s house 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.” (Reference: 1 Samuel 2:29-30 )
This is a rather misleading title/name for this theme. It does not mean that God DOES NOT respect people, but the God regards people according to a different criteria than humanity has. Take Eli for example; he was an old and venerated priest who had served in the synagogue for many years. He had seen and heard everything, and had more experience than most other priests serving. Yet God judged him harshly because his sons took advantage of the family’s tradition and calling to be priests to God. It was still the time, beloved, when the sins of one generation were “visited” on to another.
Eli’s position and family heritage meant nothing if he was not able to teach his sons what is proper, pass on the traditions, and discipline them when they went astray. Previous verses in I Samuel 2 tell about his interactions with his sons, scolding them. But it did not good. If you read carefully, beloved, you will see that God actually knew it would be so. That is why young Samuel was being trained up in the temple – more by God than by Eli.
However, as the refrain goes, what does that mean for us? First, all the wealth, power, and acclaim we gather in this world does not mean anything to God. In the eyes of humanity we may be a “wunderkind”, but God has the Divine’s own way of judging. Second, acclaim in humanity’s eye will not save us from judgment from God. That might even mean positive acclaim that you would think God would look upon with favor. Third, those that you would think by any measure would not find favor with God, might be just the people that God is going to use in God’s mission for the world.
The historic Anabaptist quoted today (Menno Simons) encouraged his readers to “not postpone to turn unto the Lord, and do not defer it from day to day, for His wrath will soon overtake you. Late repentance, says Augustine, is seldom genuine; but if genuine, it is never too late. Repent while you enjoy health, and I declare, says he, that you are safe and sure.“ His reasoning was that lineage and ancestry do not save you, but true repentance does. I would echo that too. But I, beloved, also want to caution you that the way you live your life after making a decision for God also matters. If God is not a “respecter of persons” you can as easily fall from grace as anyone else. Each day, beloved, we must earn God’s respect. It is when we do not/have not that we must confess our failings and ask for forgiveness. And actually, God will respect us MORE for having confessed to the Lord and asked for mercy.
As the days unfold we will hear more about God’s respect and losing God’s respect. For this day, may you God’s esteem rest on you as you strive to live for God. Selah!