Snapshots: Day 176
The Snapshot: “Eli thought she was drunk.” (1 Sam 1:14) People without discernment jump to wrong conclusions. Hannah is just praying silently but with her lips moving and Eli thinks the worst of her and jumps to a wrong conclusion. I wonder how often we do that in the church as we lack understanding, lack compassion, lack empathy – all those lacks in us build up to wrong assessments. People jump to wrong conclusions when the Holy Spirit is moving (see Acts 2:13) for the ‘carnal mind’ (1 Cor 3:1-4) cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit. When we don’t understand what we are seeing, do we assume the best of our brothers and sisters or immediately jump to (wrong) conclusions that harm the body of Christ? May it not be so.
Further Consideration: You would hope that spiritual leaders are men of understanding, of insight, of wisdom, of revelation, but it is not always so. In the New Testament, the designation ‘elder’, one of the three designations for a local church leader (the others being overseer, and pastor or shepherd) suggest age and wisdom and that is God’s expectation of us if we are such leaders. As we’ll see, Eli does not live up to the role. Oh, he may have a level of spirituality but his inability to run his household properly (see 1 Tim 3:4) indicates a lack in him, and now we see that lack reflected in his inability to discern what is going on in Hannah.
But there is also an element of that same old thing that crops up again and again in Scriptures, not to go by outward appearances. Samuel himself had to be corrected by God later (1 Sam 16:7) when he was looking for God’s next king among Jesse’s sons. Jesus had to wise up the disciples when they got carried away by the impressive temple of Herod (Matt 24:1-) and they had to realise it only had a short shelf-life. But misjudging can even extend into wrongly assessing causes of people’s mishaps, as the disciples had to learn from Jesus in respect of the blind man (Jn 9:1-). His biggest challenge was to the Pharisees who so often got it wrong when it came to understanding spirituality.
Oh yes, it is so easy to jump to wrong conclusions, but when it comes to the kingdom of God, we need to take special care and look to the Holy Spirit to teach us and give us discernment about others. If in doubt, make no assessment, just keep quiet. Eli blew it, not only by wrongly assessing what was going on, but also by rebuking her (v.14). The last thing this anguishing woman needed was a rebuke, to be misunderstood. Do we see how important this is? We can wrongly assess people and if they are in a place of anguish and need, our judgment of them can do more harm. They need love and acceptance that comes with understanding, not misunderstanding and rebuke. Let’s be careful!