The Big Effect of Little Choices
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.
~ Judges 16:4 (NIV)
Samson seemed to have all the right stuff. An angel announced his birth and instructed his parents to raise him to live as a lifelong Nazirite, a person set apart by God. As a result of his standing, he was to abstain from grape products, have no contact with dead bodies and forego haircuts (see Numbers 6:1–8). Samson grew up with godly parents who loved him. He was given a life purpose—to begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines—and an incredible strength to help him achieve the task.
But Samson’s privileged beginnings didn’t automatically endow him with moral integrity. Over the course of his life, he deliberately participated in the things he and his parents had promised not to do. He ate honey from a lion’s carcass, violating his Nazirite vow in order to delight himself with something sweet (see Judges 14:8–9). Instead of being a great warrior against the Philistines, Samson’s crusades were often spurred by personal vendettas. And he had an insatiable appetite for Philistine women. Ultimately, one of those women, Delilah, learned the secret of Samson’s strength and traded that knowledge for a large sum of money.
Maybe you remember learning in church school that Samson was strong because he had long hair. Actually, Samson’s strength wasn’t in his hair but in his relationship with God. When his head was shaved, it was merely an outward indication of what he had already lost inside.
Ultimately Samson was unable to fully realize his potential or use the gifts God had given him. This is true of many of us. Though God has uniquely gifted us for his purpose, we are unable to live up to our potential because we continually fall victim to our sinful nature.
Samson didn’t turn toward sin in one grand decision. A lifetime of little choices resulted in Samson’s demise. Similarly, it isn’t the politician’s final bribe, but rather his early career decisions to bend the rules that lead to his downfall. It isn’t the public moral failing of the religious leader, but the many unconfessed sins that preceded it, that brings him down. It’s not the addiction, but the little indulgences that fed the addiction, that kills a family.
This principle also applies to our marriages. Most Christians don’t wake up one day and decide to throw their marriage and family away with one grand affair. The separation begins with participating in a bit of seemingly innocent flirting at work or sending an innocuous email to an old friend or confiding a bit of unhappiness with one’s spouse to a sympathetic friend.
Before making what appears to be a harmless decision, stop and evaluate the cost. Success is less about having the right stuff than it is about choosing the right way. A lot of little choices done God’s way will add up to a lifetime of purpose.
- Beginning with Samson’s birth in Judges 13, examine the decisions that Samson made in his life. Which ones led him to God? Which ones separated him from God?
- What were the costs Samson paid for his decisions?
- As a Nazirite, Samson had specific things that set him apart for God. What things set us apart for God? What sets our marriage apart as a Christian marriage?