Judges 11:29-15:20 (NIV)
Josh Masters, Care Ministries
There are a lot of deep theological or historical topics that could be discussed after reading this passage. I will confess that I struggled with which of them to write about, but as I repeatedly read the text a more direct question continued to emerge: Am I using my gifts for God or for myself?
There is a distinct similarity between the Bible’s description of Samson’s birth and the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1). Both were miraculous events announced by messengers of God. Both children were given to parents unable to conceive. Both men were set apart for serving God in a special way, and both had their purpose foretold. That, however, is where their similarities seem to end.
John dedicated his entire life to the service of God. There is not a hint of selfishness in his actions, and while we know he wasn’t perfect, Jesus himself said, “…among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28). Despite great cost to himself, John the Baptist actively and enthusiastically uses his gifts to serve both the Father and Jesus.The story of Samson, on the other hand, has always bothered me—even as a teenager I remember thinking that there wasn’t much to like about this guy. I will admit that the comic book reading, Batman loving boy in me who dreamed of being a vigilante certainly liked the idea of wiping out a thousand enemies with nothing more than a donkey’s jawbone, but Samson even seemed to spoil that with his bad attitude. He comes across as arrogant, selfish and spoiled. Samson undoubtedly and repeatedly uses his spiritual gifts for self-serving purposes.
God did not abandon Samson, and in fact worked through his flaws—just as He can work through mine, but the question remains: Am I using the gifts God gave me to serve Him or am I using them to serve myself? Am I more like John or more like Samson?
Samson will fulfill the prophesy for his life by kick-starting Israel’s deliverance from the Philistines (Judges 13:5), but just barely. He succeeds at his life’s purpose like a student who only strives to get a 68 on the final exam because that’s all he needs to pass the class. Is that how I want my contribution to the Kingdom recorded in the history books of eternity?
Father God, You have given me gifts to make a difference in this world for Your Kingdom and message of grace. Open my eyes to areas of my life where I am being selfish with those gifts. Remind me that Jesus easily could have used His divinity and gifts for His own purposes, but sought only Yours—so that I might be saved. Allow me to see the opportunities you have placed before me, that I might more completely fulfill the purpose You have for my life. Amen.