12 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord. 13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled 14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15 But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”
16 If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”
17 This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they[a] were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.
18 But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to[b]the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25 If one person sins against another, God[c] may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.
26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.
How often do we take what doesn’t belong to us? How often do we freely give of what we have? One follows the standard trajectory of the human heart. The other follows a trajectory dictated by the spirit of Jesus Christ. We take what is not ours due to a disregard for others and an over-inflated view of ourselves. From that vantage point, we lack the ability to even see the interests of others because our vision is dominated by self. And since we cannot see others at all, we can’t see their sadness as a result of their loss; we are preoccupied by the joy that results in our gain. By contrast, the giving heart of the Spirit echoes the heart of God. This heart doesn’t simply evolve an interest or value in giving. This new heart is defined by giving. This new heart finds it nearly impossible to take and all too natural to give. Giving in this case does not leave you without, with less than you had. It is giving what was not yours to begin with and leaves you with what was always there. God has brought all of us into this world not for us to fall in love with it. He brought us into this world so we can fall in love with him through our experience in his creation. Thus, when we fall in love with who he is, we become less aware of what he has given or taken away. At this point it is him we desire, and nothing can take him away from us once we find him.