Sharing in the Sins of Others: By Partnership

December 3, 2012

The role of parents or teachers, supervisors, business owners, or any other person with authority over others requires taking responsibility for training and correcting faults of those subject to us.  If we shirk our duty in this regard we become partners in their sins.

In 1 Kings, 1-7, Heli, of the family of Aaron, was High priest and also Judge.  He had both the highest spiritual and temporal authority.  It must have been frustrating to the Jews that Heli allowed his wicked sons, Ophni and Phinees to take away forcefully their sacrifices to the Lord and engage in what we would call today serious liturgical abuse.  Their violations of the sacrificial laws were so gross they should have been severely punished. In addition they committed fornication with (probably raped) the women that waited at the tabernacle. 

Remember, Heli was the highest judicial authority in Israel. But he only mildly rebuked his sons, lacking the spine to either punish them or prevent their evil deeds. Their reckless behavior indicates that Heli had spared the rod and spoiled the children.  It seems that he never properly educated his sons in the duties of the priesthood either.

While Heli himself was a virtuous and God-fearing man, and willingly accepted God’s punishment for letting his sons do evil, i.e. their deaths, he was also punished personally, and that by suffering sudden death upon hearing that the Ark of the Covenant was captured.

Some ways to sin by participation

  • Not holding our children, students, or employees accountable for their behavior.
  • Not holding to consequences we have laid out for bad behavior – a great way to teach everybody that we don’t mean what we say.
  • Not applying appropriate and timely discipline for problem behavior.
  • Cutting offenders so much slack repeatedly that everyone notices we are not up to the leadership demanded by our position.
  • Allowing the bad behavior of children, students, or subordinates to serve as proxy for our own passive-aggressive ways of handling conflict.  (Looking the other way while subordinates engage in thuggish or destructive behavior that advances our own ulterior motives.)

Most of us like to be considered good natured, but we cannot allow ourselves to be weak and indulgent when faced with transgressions of those we are responsible for.  We have to get over the antipathy towards being thought of as a “bad guy” even when we are highly skilled at communication and conflict management and take a firm and logical approach to correcting somebody else.  No matter how hard we try, even in the best of circumstances, somebody’s not going to like us for disciplining responsibly. That’s life.  God won’t be rewarding us for being popular but for wisely guiding those He has entrusted to our care.

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Monday, December 3rd, 2012 spirituality

8 Comments to Sharing in the Sins of Others: By Partnership

  1. Truth be told many of us parents have been far too like Heli than we ought to have been. Oh, how we need to hear the truths embodied in this Scripture preached. Thanks again for shaking many of us out of our spiritual complacency.
    Michael Seagriff recently posted..Sunday Snippets – December 2, 2012

  2. Michael Seagriff on December 3rd, 2012
  3. Barb,
    Thank you for writing this series on sin – it’s very good. (Probably the most thorough articles on sin that I’ve ever read.) As I’ve been reading them I’ve realized I am guilty in a number of areas including this one. When I read the part where you said, “most of us like to be considered good natured” I couldn’t help but think of how true this is. I’ve avoided conflict many times in my life simply so I won’t look like a bad guy and it makes me wonder how much damage I’ve caused to others by my failure to speak up.

  4. Mary on December 3rd, 2012
  5. Me, too, Mary. An old German proverb says “We grow too soon old and too late smart.”

  6. barb on December 3rd, 2012
  7. Michael, sometimes we just don’t realize that what we’re doing is wrong. It’s been really interesting to me to take this look at sin and “wake up”, not giving myself a pass for anything.

  8. barb on December 3rd, 2012
  9. Going along to get along is one of my bigger faults. Good article.
    RAnn recently posted..Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival

  10. RAnn on December 9th, 2012
  11. I think we all face that in our lives.

  12. barb on December 9th, 2012
  13. Mary’s comment caught me–I’d like to think I hold my children responsible, in general–it’s more difficult to know when to apply mercy. :/ In other circumstances, though, I find myself susceptible to getting self-righteous if I start trying to call others down for sin. I imagine I’ll be wrestling with that particular balance for the rest of my life.
    Kathleen Basi recently posted..Sunday Snippets

  14. Kathleen Basi on December 9th, 2012
  15. Balance is what it’s all about. I have decided to err on the side of strictness, though. No excuses for missed homework unless there’s a serious bout of sickness or somebody in the family dies. Otherwise, the kids will make up any reason as an excuse not to do lessons and then they learn the art of conning others.

  16. barb on December 9th, 2012


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