The New Testament describes Samson as a man of faith. It mentions neither his failures nor his great strength. Though he possessed great physical strength, he was a moral weakling who followed his own selfish desires and ignored God. Do you remember his story? He was the man who foolishly loved Delilah?
It seems that after the first three episodes of betrayal, Samson would’ve known not to trust Delilah. But like many of us, Samson thought that giving into manipulation was an expression of love. He chose to please Delilah and to get what he wanted from her, rather than to obey God and deliver his people. Delilah chose to use her relationship with Samson for her own gain. Most of us have experienced the pain of being used, and we have undoubtedly used others. We’ve also known the searing agony of being betrayed.
It will accomplish nothing to look at Samson and think about what he didn’t accomplish. Likewise, it does little good for us to become depressed over what might have been. Samson shows us that as long as we have life, we have hope. It’s never to late to surrender your life to God and allow him to redeem you and restore what you’ve lost. In spite of his failures, Samson is listed as a champion of faith in Hebrews 11. In spite of your failures, you, too, can be a champion of faith as God continues to transform your life.
Regardless of your humble beginnings, God can lead you to a glorious future. But there’s a catch. You need to be transformed according to his perfect plan. And you’ll need both faith and courage as you allow him to make the most of your weaknesses, to transform your deficiencies into strength, and to turn your misery into mission.
Take for example another man’a man named Gideon. When you first meet Gideon in the book of Judges, he’s discouraged. He’s a young man with little self-respect. His clan was the weakest in his whole tribe, and he was the least in his family. He’s first seen threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding the little food he has from his Midianite oppressors. An angel appeared and called to him, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’ Gideon certainly didn’t look or feel like a mighty hero, but God knew his potential. By the end of the story, Gideon had become the deliverer of his people. His first step toward success was to see himself as God saw him’a ‘mighty hero.’ Then Gideon was able to hope in the possibility of freedom.
No matter how weak or unworthy you are, God is able to transform you into a mighty hero of faith. Just as Gideon was changed when he trusted God to make him into a powerful man of God, you too will be changed when you allow God’s strength to empower you in your areas of weakness.
All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life. And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will. At times, the challenge may seem too hard. Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.
Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith? Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis. Was Jesus really the Messiah? Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship? Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions? Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?
The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians. In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.
What old habits are haunting you? Addiction? Lust? Anger? Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways. From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life. But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.