A Dangerous Relaxation

… he told her the whole truth and said to her, “My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth.  If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man.” – Judges 16:17

A mistaken assumption couched within the myth that surrounds an unbiblical view of Samson is that his strength somehow lay within the length of his hair. Of course, it did not. Samson’s supernatural might rested with a transcendent God and it was simply a gift for his use as long as he remained consecrated or dedicated to the purposes of the Almighty. Even though Samson did not cut his own hair or make a conscious decision to reject his anointed position in God’s service, he obviously took that position for granted and when he let his guard down his strength departed.

Your strength … my strength … our strength as Christ-followers rests with Him. Though we may not consciously reject our anointed position in God’s service, we may take it for granted … and the moment we do, our strength departs. Diligence in the presence of a persistent enemy is a necessary defense against such a formidable thief and our greatest assurance that we can remain strong in God’s might and dedicated to His purposes. On the other hand, relaxation in such matters can be devastatingly dangerous.

If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. – God to Cain (before he murdered Abel)

Pleasing to All

Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. – Romans 15:1

One theme that Paul pursues in his letter to the church at Rome concerns the strength that true freedom in Christ supplies to the ardent disciple. The Apostle taught that we are all free (in Christ) to ignore the rules and regulations of legalism (in his case, Judaism) and that this freedom was a great asset in the service of Christ’s kingdom. In his case, Paul emphasized that this freedom gave him the ability to move between cultures and, as he put it, “be all things to all men that by all means he might save some.”

At the same time, Paul was convinced that his freedom came with an obligation. Understanding that such freedom could produce its own brand of religious piety and superiority, which would run contrary to the Spirit of Christ, he could never allow it to become a license to offend. In fact, such freedom should at times be limited … or at least gently applied … when in the presence of those whose faith is still bound by their tradition.

Paul’s message should be received by all those who share in Christ’s Kingdom. Be pleasing to all without displeasing God.

Christianity, godliness, is far more than a checklist. Being “in Christ” is a relationship, and like all relationships it deserves disciplined maintenance, but never legalistic reductionism. – R. Kent Hughes