(If you're not up to speed with Samson in the Bible then Judges 13-16 are well worth a read. It's the biblical equivalent of Conan the Barbarian. And if you're not up to speed with Conan the Barbarian you've missed a film from the 80's you shouldn't watch!)
No - I've not decided to grow my hair long. Though for a while I have fancied being a pastor with a pony tail. But I put this down to a mid life crisis. Nor am I suggesting that I am immensely strong. I've sadly reached that age where I no longer wrestle my sons for fear of injury. The only reason that I am able to defend myself in any way is that I fight dirtier than them. Nor is it that I have taken to attending drunken parties or visiting prostitutes!
The reason that I am like Samson is that I am far too quick to think that things that go well are the result of my abilities, rather than God's blessing. That was Samson's problem. So when things went well in battle he congratulated himself:
Judges 15:16 'Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men.”'
When things we're a little inconvenient he complained to God:
Judges 15:18 "...he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?”
Samson liked to sing his own praises. And so do I. Though I am a little subtler than Samson. But only a littler.
On Sunday Ben Clark preached a fantastic sermon on Ephesians 1. The Lord spoke into my heart about his glorious grace. That He is the great giver to undeserving sinners. I thoroughly recommend you have a listen if you haven't done so already. It will be the best 35 minutes you spend this week. (Go to the Home Page and click on "Sermons").
Afterwards I was chatting to folk who were telling me how much they had been encouraged. But rather than reflect on how gracious and glorious our God is, I managed to slip in a comment that suggested that Ben had done so well because of my mentoring! It wasn't quite as blatant as that. But I know my heart motives. And I know that feeling of conviction that came almost immediately after I had finished my fishing for self-glory.
All of this was deeply ironic considering I'd just heard a sermon all about God's glory. And specifically how his glory is totally different to ours. Our glory is all about taking for ourselves. But God's glory is all about giving to others. Giving us his Son. Giving us eternal adoption into his family. Giving us the redemption of sins through Jesus blood shed at the cross. Giving us his indwelling Spirit as a deposit of our future with him. Giving. Giving. Giving.
I need to remember Paul's words to the self-congratulatory Corinthian Christians:
"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Remember. And pray that they would be written more indelibly on my heart!