Why then do you scorn[a] my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me…? ESV 1 Samuel 2:29
My pastor once commented that in his generation men sacrificed their families on the altar of ministry and in my generation men were sacrificing ministry on the altar of families. While the Bible clearly indicates the importance of our children and the family unit, God calls us to love Him above all else. I have seen too many people worshipping their families by prizing family time over attending church, joining a small group or doing ministry, and in the process they do significant spiritual damage to their families. I’ve faced the dilemma in my own family.
The basic principle we have to keep in mind is that our loyalty must be to God first. Eli was judged because he honored his children above his God. His sons, as priests, were defiling the offerings brought before God. Instead of waiting until the sacrifice was completed to take their portion, Eli’s sons took what they wanted from the start, similar to a pastor grabbing handfuls of money from the offering plate rather than waiting for his approved paycheck. Eli didn’t stop this process, and in the end, his sons both died.
For the sake of your children, say “No!” Keep God first in your home, even if that means inconveniencing family. By idolizing our children, we teach them they are gods, which only further condemns them spiritually. We are called to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. To be sure, we can be too busy with spiritual things, but generally, my observation is we use that as an excuse to avoid spiritual things and have “family time.” Make “family time” God time and worship the Lord who saved us.