Welcome to Stephen Davey's powerful message titled "Manhood Begins with M." Join us as we delve into the topic of being a godly father and explore what it truly means to embody biblical manhood. In this enlightening sermon, Stephen emphasizes the importance of modeling godly character, convictions, and commitments as a foundation of manhood. Discover the significance of choosing to be a father and the on-the-job training it entails. Explore the pursuit of godly manhood and the passionate commitment it requires. This sermon serves as an introduction to a series that will delve deeper into the subject of a godly heritage. Prepare to be inspired and challenged as we uncover the tragic story of Eli, a man who failed to be the model he should have been. Join us as we put the "M" back into manhood and strive to live out godly character, conviction, and commitment.
Today is Father’s Day, and I want to spend my time with you today exploring not only the subject of being a godly father, but the broader subject of what it means to be a Biblical model of a man.
I am convinced that manhood begins with the letter “m” in more ways that one. In true Biblical manhood, the man stands for modeling:
modeling godly character
modeling godly convictions;
modeling godly commitments.
Have you ever thought about the fact that no one has ever been given the opportunity to choose their father. God decided that. Some of you had fathers who modeled Biblical manhood – godly character, convictions and commitments. Many of you, I would dare guess didn’t have that.
Beyond the fact that no one chose who their father would be, since the conceiving of a child is attributed in the scripture as the act of God’s design, no man really chose to be a father. God arranged that too.
And standing in that delivery room, holding that newborn baby as I did several times, you probably had the same sensation sweep over you at some point that I did and you found yourself saying, “What in the world do I do next?!” You probably didn’t say that out loud . . . you didn’t want your wife to panic.”
Being a father is on the job training. By the time you have a few things mastered, the subject of your experiments is gone.
The truth is, being a godly man is a goal, in general is not a completely achievable goal – it’s more like a passionate pursuit.
Even the great Apostle Paul, whom we would say without hesitation was a model of godliness worth imitating, once wrote, “"Not that I have arrived or have already become perfect, but I press on. . ." (Phil. 3:12)
I want to address the men here today who want to press on.
I want to preach a sermon to all the men today . . . and all the women said??
What does it mean to put the “M” back into manhood?
What does it look like to model godly character, godly conviction, godly commitments.
Obviously this is a series, not a sermon. That’s why next month we’re going to spend Sunday morning and Sunday night together addressing the subject of a godly heritage.
Consider this sermon an introduction.
And I want to introduce the subject of modeling godly manhood by showing you the tragic story of a man who happened who should have been a model, but wasn’t. He was considered the most spiritual man in Israel. The man voted, most likely to be a godly example, not only to his children, but to his entire generation. His name was Eli.
We catch our first glimpse of a looming family disaster in the Book of First Samuel, chapter 2, just after Hannah and her husband hand off little Samuel to serve under Eli.
After the young boy, Samuel, is deposited into Eli’s care, the Bible pulls back the curtain and reveals terrible corruption.
Notice verse 12. Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord.
Eli’s sons were priests by occupation. They spent their days handling the offerings and the sacrifices. But the text announces bluntly, “They did not know the Lord.”
In other words, they managed the things of God but didn’t know God.
They could talk about God, but they did not care about God.
They could find their place in the word of God and lead in the worship of God, but they did not listen to God’s word.
They could lead people in the worship of God, but they themselves did not love God.
People would have said the sons of Eli were important to God, but God says here that the sons of Eli were worthless to God’s cause.
In fact, they ha been modeling ungodly manhood for years.
The remainder of this paragraph gives us a detailed account of at least two different categories of ungodly, sinful living, instead of spiritual living.
1) First, they were models of greed and dishonesty.
2:13b. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three pronged fork in his hand.
14. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.
According to the Law, the priests were to receive the breast and shoulder of the animal as their portion after it was ceremonially waved before the Lord.
In a very real sense, the meat was the priests paycheck! Because of the steady flow of worshippers. . . they had more than enough to eat.
But the sons of Eli sent their servants out to the pot and while it was still boiling, they stuck a huge fork into the pot and took whatever meat they wanted.
That's not all!
The fat was considered the best portion; therefore, it was burned on the altar to God.
Look at verse 15. Also, before they burned the fat, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, "Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you (only) only raw.
And what if the worshipper refused on Biblical grounds! 16. And if the man said to him, "They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire" then he would say, "No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force."
Eli’s sons had converted the priesthood into a form of organized crime. With the priests servants serving as the hit men.
The sons of Eli were modeling greed and open, corrupt dishonesty.
Notice verse 17. Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord.
The Hebrew verb “despised” doesn’t mean to hate, but to ignore – to treat with utter disregard – to ignore its value.
By the way, most men don’t hate the Bible – in fact, they probably have their own copy. They just ignore it . . . they don’t revere it . . . they hardly ever read it. That’s the idea here.
2) Secondly, the sons of Eli were modeling before the people, immorality and arrogance.
22. Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
I’d rather not even talk about this! How utterly corrupt and disgraceful. How tragically, openly hypocritical.
They knew the word! They were serving God! And they were involved immorally with women who worked with them.
That’s another way of saying “Who you really are is measured by who you are in the dark.” What you do behind closed doors says more about your character than what you do in public.
My youngest brother is an financial planner and he, for a time, lived in a small town in Georgia before starting his own business. While there, he and his wife joined a small Baptist church and got involved in serving. They soon discovered that is was a church where a wealthy layman had dictated and dominated the church and every pastor in it’s history for nearly 30 years. My brother told me over the phone that half the people in the church believe that anything he says is the gospel. Jonathan told me that this man had recently told him, with a measure of pride and arrogance, that he’d been able to cheat the government out of his full taxes for years.
This man led the worship services . . . he opened in prayer . . . and he was a fraud.
Like the sons of Eli, he was a model of arrogance, dishonesty and greed.
The question I automatically ask after reading these verses is, "Where was Eli, their father?!”
You’re about to discover that Eli was there all along, but he also was modeling at least 2 ungodly characteristics.
First of all, Eli modeled spiritual apathy
Look back at verse 22. Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel.
The Hebrew verb “heard” indicates that he heard it time and time again. In other words, Eli had been hearing about his sons immoral, greedy, corrupt behavior over an extended period of time.
So he finally speaks.
23. He said to them, "Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?" 24. No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord's people circulating.
Eli should have defrocked them - stripped them of their role as priests. In fact, according to the law, he could have had them stoned to death before the elders for their mockery of God and His law.
But what does he do? He continues to allow his sons rip people off and fornicate with women. And the whole nation suffers.
The truth is, Eli has closed his eyes for decades. He had consistently refused to discipline his sons.
Would you note that I didn't say, “Eli refused to discipline his sons consistently,” but Eli consistently refused to discipline his sons.
No parent is consistent. The words, parenting and consistency should never be in the same sentence.
Part of the reason is it takes so much time and every situation isn’t the same and your children started very young needing to be disciplined.
Your little toddler toddled over to that shelf where you have some little curio – and he reaches out his pudgy little hand and you say, “No, no.” And he looks back at you – directly into your eyes and grabs it. He’s already decided you’re not tough enough to take him on . . . he’ll show you what he thinks of your “No, no.”
No wonder Mark Twain said, “When your child turns two put him in a barrel and feed him through a knothole.” He went on to say, “And when they become a teenager, plug up the hole.” He must have had kids.
The truth is, Eli ever really tried. You get the feeling all he ever did was say “No, no. . .” and when his sons grabbed it anyway, he said, “Well, boys will be boys.”
Look over at chapter 3 and verse 13. God says, “For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.”
God held Eli responsible - for what?! His sons sinning?! No! For refusing to confront their sin.
The word rebuke could be translated restrain or confront. It's the same word given to every father today by Paul in Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers . . . bring up your children in the instruction of the Lord." Same word.
Instructing children means confronting sin, restraining evil, challenging disobedience.
A number of years ago, a member of the Royal Family visited America for the first time. Upon returning to London after the lengthy visit, a reporter asked him to name the most amazing thing he saw in America. Without hesitation, he said, “The way the parents obey their children.”
The godly father who refuses to model apathy and instead models godly character and conviction and commitment, is a man who is willing to set the standard,
to enforce the standard,
to model the standard and
confront when the standard is violated and
to confess when he himself fails to meet the standard.
Eli failed to confront his sons. He was given three warnings/opportunities: Three times, God sent a message to Eli that he was failing to model of Biblical manhood.
And all three times Eli responded by covering his ears and eyes.
1) The first warning came from the public in general.
We’ve already read how the people are talking about the scandal. And some of the people evidently had been slipping up to the old priest – “Have you heard what your sons are doing. Their hurting the nation . . . the name of God is suffering as well as your own integrity and Judge and High Priest.
Eli's response - See no evil, hear no evil!
2) The second warning came from an unnamed prophet who even predicted that Eli’s sons would be killed on the same day as an act of God’s judgment..
Eli's response - See no evil!
2) The third warning came from little Samuel after God came to him in the night and delivered the verdict against Eli and his sons.
Eli's response - See no evil!
Robert Lewis in his book, “Raising a Modern Day Knight” defines biblical manhood by saying, first of all that a godly man resists passivity.
That is, he gets involved with his world . . . his family . . . his children . . . his church.
He refuses the urge to be a spiritual couch potato . . . a spiritual dead beat.
He shuns apathy . . . the very thing Eli modeled as he refused to confront his wicked sons.
2) The second thing Eli modeled, and perhaps the most devastating to his sons, was hypocrisy.
One of the most insightful passages related to Eli's failure is found in chapter 2 where God is speaking to Eli. Notice verse 29. Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My swelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?"
Did you catch that? Guess what . . . Eli was eating the meat his sons were bringing home.
You know why his sons disregarded Eli their father. Because while at the same time he was saying, “No, no.” he was also saying, “Pass the meatloaf.” “You boys shouldn’t be taking this meat . . . hey, that’s my favorite kind.”
While he should’ve returned the meat to the tabernacle for sacrifice, he ate it along with his sons.
Listen dear friend, maybe the reason your son doesn’t respect authority is because you’re always criticizing your own boss behind his back.
Maybe your son doesn’t respect girls because they see how you belittle your wife.
Maybe they have foul mouths because although they hear you pray at supper time, they hear your curse under your breath during the ball game.
Maybe they are among the 60% of churched teenagers who are sexually involved because you don’t even grunt a disapproval at some movie where sex outside of marriage is glamorized in living color. And they know that you really must not be all that concerned.
Maybe the reason they don’t care about the things of God is because you don’t.
Larry Crabb, a well known counselor and author conducted a seminar in Colorado Springs where he asked 350 men if their own fathers were godly role models. Less than 10% could raise their hands.
Was your father? Are you?
The bottom line in this tragedy is that Eli was no different than his sons – and his sons were no different than him.
I want you to know that our nation is in desperate need of godly men who will put the “M” back into manhood . . . modeling godliness for all of us to see.
That’s one of the reasons, the older I get, the more grateful I am for my own father.
I called him last night to wish him an early happy father’s day. I knew I’d be in meetings just about all day today and tonight. I said, “Dad, I’m going to be preaching tomorrow on godly men . . .and I’m going to mention that none of us got to choose our fathers . . . but I want you to know that I’m glad God chose you to be mine. Hallmark could not have said it better.
I told him, “the older I get the more I’m glad that I had a godly example of manhood . . . not just a good provider, not just a good man, but a godly model. And I added how much I wanted to be more like him.
You want to be that too?
Let me give you a couple things that we can learn in reverse from Eli’s ungodly model.
Modeling Biblical manhood means . . .
- When you’re tempted to dodge the assignment, you refuse.
- When you fail to measure up to God’s standard, you repent.
- When you’re offered the opportunity to communicate value and truth, you respond.
For you who are fathers, what would it mean to your child for you to communicate spiritual challenges and events and dreams in your own life.
Sharing not just your beliefs, but your battles.
You remember that company party – your clients will be there . . . you had to bee there . . . you tried to be polite as you refused the offers to drink . . . you slipped away from more than one conversation in order to avoid the dirty jokes . . . you remember how you felt? Like a relic from the Victorian era; out of sync with the world, a holy Joe – have you ever considered how powerful that story would be to your son or daughter – that person you’re discipling – that new believer – people in your world who happen to be facing incredible peer pressure at school or in their own career to blend in with the crowd. To keep their Christianity a secret. Incredible pressure to talk and act and live like the world.
Modeling requires communication – telling others what God is doing in your life.
It’s time for men who know Jesus Christ to put the “M” back into manhood.
Modeling godly character . . . godly conviction . . . godly commitment to relationships in their families and in their world.
Those very things that Eli failed to model in his generation are those things that we must model to ours, as we pursue with passion a lifestyle that brings honor and glory to name and cause of Jesus Christ.