Delivering Hard, but Needed Messages
1 Samuel 2-5
The young boy born to Elkanah and Hannah was named Samuel. He would grow up to be a great servant in God's kingdom. After he was born and weaned, Hannah fulfilled her vow to God (1:11) and gave him to Eli, the high priest at Shiloh. Samuel was raised in the house of God, engaged in godly duties even as a young boy.
In 1 Samuel 3, he received his first prophesy from God. "Then the Lord said to Samuel, 'Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever,'" 1 Samuel 3:11-14.
That was a difficult prophesy to lay on a young man. Eli seems to have been a good man, and he certainly did a good job in raising Samuel, though he failed in raising and rebuking his own sons. He would have been a father figure to Samuel, and Samuel's reluctance to repeat the message of the LORD is seen in 3:15, "And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli."
But, when pressed by Eli, who knew God had spoken to the boy and not to him, Samuel found the courage to give the oracle of the LORD, though in the giving he would have known Eli would be upset.
There are a number of times when we must say things to others that are not fun to say-things which hurt us to tell them. Preacher must sometimes say things that are unpopular, but needed. The young evangelist Timothy was told, "I charge you... preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." The first thing he-and preachers today-was told to do was to reprove, which means to convince them in telling a fault. I think this was listed first because it is often the last thing you want to do as a preacher-but sometimes it is the first, and most needed thing to be done. Elders are responsible to carry out this task as well.
Parents must sometimes say things that are hard for their children to bear, and they must sometimes make decisions their children will not like. Children need parents, not best friends, especially in the difficult teen years.
Concerned Christians must sometimes step into the lives of other Christians and say painful things for the good of others. "And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all," 1 Thessalonians 5:14. After speaking of the need for leaders and brethren who follow to live in peace, Paul told Christians to "admonish" others-caution them; reprove them gently.
You won't win any popularity contest in the short run by following the example of Samuel and saying what needs to be said, but my experience has been that good, godly Christians will appreciate hard messages delivered with loving overtones and respond as Eli did, "It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him," 1 Samuel 3:18.