Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 9, 2015

you-before-me life

As I sit to write an article on Samson, I find myself struggling to wrap my arms around his life. At the very same time, I am also pondering a very meaningful and life changing statement that I read during the last week.  Please forgive me if my words seem a bit scattered, but my intent is to cause you to pause … to pause while taking a look at how you are approaching life.

It’s been over twenty years since I entered a funeral home to perform a very small funeral; less than five people attended. I had officiated the funeral of a man’s father and now his mother had died. He knew what I was going to ask, and his words in response to my expected question were unforgettable. He said, “I know you are going to ask me to tell you something good about my mother, but I can’t … there was nothing good about her.” As you can imagine, it was a hollow service.  As I read about Samson recently, I struggled to find much good about him. He was given such a gift (strength), but reading about his life was anything but uplifting (until the end).

My knowledge of Samson started early in life as I was introduced to an incredibly strong man who was never to have his hair cut.  Strange but true, cutting his hair would result in losing his great strength.  He was a judge of Israel for twenty years, known mostly for the acts of supernatural strength he performed, for he was a man who lived below his spiritual potential.  Samson violated God’s laws, let his life be controlled by sensuality, was manipulated by a woman named Delilah, and ended up in prison as a blind man (his eyes had been gouged out) grinding grain.  His last act of strength was to push on the two pillars that held up the temple of the Philistines.  I believe he repented of his sin in that prison, before God graciously gave him the strength for a final triumph.  Interesting he was referenced in Hebrews 11:33…

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. 

There is much in Samson’s life that causes me to ask, “Why did he waste such potential?” But I know that God saw something worthy of listing this man in the Hall of Faith chapter (Hebrews 11).  In the end, I believe he placed his dependence on the Lord.

Samson’s life was defined by choices.  We may not be able to relate to his strength or the fact that he judged Israel for twenty years, but we too will have our lives defined by choices. None of us can re-write history, but the future of all Christ-followers should be defined by selfless love to those around us; the you-before-me kind of love exemplified by Jesus.  Samson’s life looked very selfish to me, and if we are not careful the same can be said of you and me. Without a doubt, the more we focus on self, the less we truly love others.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, there was a statement that I read this week that was profound. It originated from a commitment which the people of a church in Washington State made to one another. In the book, Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness, Jerry Cook shares the commitment.

You will never knowingly suffer at my hands. I will never say anything or do anything knowingly to hurt you. I will always, in every circumstance, seek to help and support you. If you’re down and I can lift you up—I’ll do that. If you need something and I have it, I’ll share it with you. If I need to, I’ll give it to you. No matter what I find out about you, no matter what happens in the future—either good or bad—my commitment to you will never change.  And there is nothing you can do about it.

Could you and I repeat and live those words to those around us, at work, at church and in our homes? For all Christ-followers the answer is yes, but it will be a disciplined choice. Loving others this way will be a reflection of the Savior’s you-before-me life, and its impact will be incredible!

Samson made choices, and centuries later in a very different world, so will we. Going forward, will your life be dominated by a choice to selflessly love?

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Responses

  1. Very well written and thought out Thank you for all you do and this message
    You are ALL a blessing in my life


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