“And the child Samuel grew on, and increased in favour both with the Lord, and also with men. And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli…” 1 Sam 2:18
A most corrupt, base, iniquitous thing was happening in Eli’s time, a state of things utterly deplorable. Samuel might well have become a cynic, he might have become bitter and sour and critical. It is very easy when things are like that to be cynical, to be disgusted, and to have no interest in what we are doing, even though we ourselves are in no way compromising with the evil. But it seems that Samuel closed his eyes to a very great deal, and just kept them on the Lord, and his attitude was: ‘All around me is very evil, very corrupt, but I am here for the Lord; I am here, in the midst of it all, for the Lord.’ Thus was his spirit kept free from sourness and bitterness and cynicism. He ministered not to Eli, and not to Hophni and Phineas, and not to a mere procedure to keep it going, but to the Lord.
Remember, that is a secret of growth. We may all have reason to say: ‘There is a good deal around me that I do not agree with and which I am sure is contrary to what the Lord would have;’ But let us be those who say, ‘I am here to live unto the Lord, I am only doing it for Him, and so I intend to stay where I am.’ That is a way of growth.
Eli was the embodiment of the religious order of his time, he was in the place of authority and for the time being had to be recognized as such. Samuel was submissive. He was not trying to oust Eli, nor to condemn him. It is so easy to do that; because you find something wrong at headquarters, you can easily become disaffected and critical. Before Eli, he takes the submissive and subject position and ministers to the Lord. No wonder he grew.
You will not grow if you are observing the faults and flaws and errors around you, especially in people who are holding superior positions, and if you are talking and spreading reports about them. Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli, in subjection and in patience, waiting until the Lord took steps to deal with that very difficult situation which must have been eating into Samuel’s soul every day. It is our spirit that matters – purity, simplicity, earnestness, reality. That is what it means to grow, and to grow on.