Samson is an illustration of a man with unbelievable potential for good, yet who allows himself to be degraded by his lusts and revenge. There is such a lack of desire in his life to follow God, to keep his Nazarite vow, which could have and should have guided him to lead Israel back to God. Instead Samson’s story is not that of a godly leader, but of a flawed individual who has some amazing individual victories, and a lot more individual failures.
Like Samson, any of us can squander our potential. We can make choices that ruin what God wants to do in us and through us. In this third installment of our Characters series, we learned that God wanted Samson to be a godly leader. Samson had been set aside, given the gift of the Spirit of God who empowered him with legendary strength, but Samson used this gift for selfish passions. This reminds us that we are not robots. God gives us good gifts, but we have the choice to use those gifts for good or bad. Consider how different Samson’s story could have been if he had used his gifts for good!
When we think about gifts, we must remember that we are made in God’s image, loved by God, and he is everything we need in life. We can live out of the deep satisfaction that only God can give us, thus transforming our hearts to follow the ways of Jesus. Samson, however, was constantly enthralled by anger, revenge and lust, rather than being enthralled by God. He didn’t give credence or credit to God for the gifts he’d been given, and he did not choose to use them for God’s glory.
Yet in the midst of squandering his potential, God is still a redeeming God. It was messy and far from perfect, but God used Samson to free Israel from the Philistines. It wouldn’t last, though. If you continue reading Judges, you’ll see how bad it gets. Samson’s leadership did nothing to bring the people closer to God. Sure, they had temporary relief from the Philistines for 20 years. But the deeper issue of who they were went unchanged. The story of Israel as told in Judges goes from bad to worse after Samson.
In what ways has God gifted you? We are all made in His image. We all, whether following God’s ways or not, have attributes of God within us. How can we use our gifts for Him? You have time, gifts, talents. Are you using them in ways that benefit the Kingdom of God? Are you intentional in your thoughts and actions? It will likely take sacrifice for that to happen, for you to grow in your knowledge and understanding of what a kingdom mindset looks like. Then work to follow that. It might go against the cultural flow and assumptions of how to live life. It might go against your family’s wishes for you. But you will have the peace and joy of knowing that you will be in line with God’s ideas.
So we should be people who practice confession, repentance, if we are not line with the lifestyle of God’s Kingdom. We should seek to be humble and teachable, even when you are on the heights.
Think of the example of President Jimmy Carter who has taught Sunday school for decades, and who has spent years serving with Habitat for Humanity, even now into his 90s.
Think of the example of Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl winning coach, and who has committed to All Pro Dads and other ministry.
Even on the heights it is possible to be humble. Even when we have gifts that give us laud and attention, we can use them for God’s glory. What gifts has God given you? How will you use them for his Kingdom?