Even if our personal life is orderly, if we neglect the salvation of our children, we’ll be severely punished. I’ll tell you only a word about this, not mine, but one taken from the Holy Scriptures.
There was once a Judean priest, Eli, a humble and lenient man, but who made God become enemy for him and his children because he had compassion for his sons even when it was not necessary and he lost his salvation and his son’s salvation.
Listen to what he is told by God, not directly, because he had lost the honor to talk to God. God considered him an ordinary slave, who had committed a great sin and because of this He announced him about the misfortunes which were about to happen to him (so big was His anger)
Listen to what He tells to Samuel. Eli found that his sons blasphemed God and he didn’t rebuke them well for that. He rebuked them but not in the way he should have done it and God did not take into account that rebuke. That’s why He banished him from His face, because he hadn’t showed the due severity.
No matter how much we’d care about our children that is not enough. What we do cannot be considered as care for them, as Eli failed to restrain his sons. God admonished Eli for the sin of his sons and punished him severely being extremely angered and saying: “So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.” (I Samuel 3, 14)
You see what a terrible punishment, sprung from an irreconcilable pain for an unforgivable sin? God told him that his entire house had to die, because there was no remedy for the offence they brought to Him.
However, except for his go-by towards the sin of his sons, God did not find any other guilt at his old priest Eli, because he was a very good man indeed. We have to take heed to someone’s virtuous life and praise it not only in the common circumstances but especially in the toughest moments.
First when he heard God’s words and saw the punishment approaching, Eli did not lose his courage and didn’t get upset and didn’t say what many would often say: Am I the master of the will and decisions of the others? I should be judged for my own sins, not for the sins of my sons, who are mature and should answer for their own deeds themselves. Eli didn’t say and didn’t think anything of this kind, but as an obedient and grateful servant who knows one thing, that we should receive without protesting everything is sent to us by God, even the unpleasant or unbearable things, said these wise words: He is the Lord. Let Him do what is good in His eyes. (I Samuel 3.18)
There are some more others examples referring at Eli’s life where we see how virtuous he was. During the battle with the Philistines someone brought him the news that his wild and wretched sons were killed in that fight. He listened to that unruffled. But when the messenger told him about the ark of God which had been captured, the old priest, overwhelmed by the dizziness and pain caused by this news, fell down from his chair on his back, near the gate and broke his spinal cord, being old and heavy. He had led Israel for forty years. (see I Samuel 4, 18)
If nothing could save this old, prominent man, who led the Jews for 40 years, this man who lived in a period when God was more lenient than today and he died in a pitiful way, because he hadn’t behaved with severity with his sons (since the sin that he failed to be a good parent erased as a huge and wild wave everything was good about him, all his good deeds and his whole life lived in virtue) then what punishment expects us, who live in a time when we are required to have even more virtue than that?
It’s about us, who are unable to educate our children properly and who consider as our enemies those who try to do this and we fight against them, being worse than some pagans with our own children. If the callosity of their hearts led the Jews to their slavery, ruin and perdition, to the enslavement of their country and to physical pains, you make your own souls be enslaved and give them tied to the cruel and cunning devils and to their passions. Since you don’t give your children any spiritual advice and don’t let the others to do that, then you don’t do anything else than what the Jews did during Eli’s time.
Saint John Chrysostom