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Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. - Judges 16:30 (NIV)
Back when I was growing up, Lays Potato Chips threw down the gauntlet with the challenge that you couldn’t eat just one of their chips. Once you had one, you were bound to have another… then another… then another. Just ask Larry Bird. I think when it comes to compromise, it’s very similar. You start off with a nibble of compromise and before you know it, you’re sitting down at the Golden Corral of concessions in life, gorging yourself on the buffet of bad choices.
That’s the exact lesson we learn with Samson. If you read his entire story in the book of Judges, chapters 13-16, you’ll see that it’s a series of compromises, one after another, that keep him inching further and further away from God’s will. And while this verse seems like a triumphant finale, it’s actually in spite of Samson, not because of him. So this week, we’re going to spend some time looking at some seemingly smaller compromises that Samson made along the way and check them against our own life to see if we are eyeing the buffet of compromise and feeling the temptation to sample.
He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass. - Judges 14:9 (NIV)
“Did you eat some of the lemonade powder?”
“I think you did. Do you want to tell me the truth?”
I remember asking my third born child, who was about three at the time, this question to which I already knew the answer. The lemonade powder had been spilled all over the kitchen and I walked in on him licking it off the floor. As he held tightly to his lie I asked him to look me in the eyes and tell me the truth. As he looked up, one of his eyes was stuck shut from the stickiness of the sugary powder. Of course, I started to laugh but held my composure enough to press through. “Look me in the eyes.” His eyebrow was working itself up and down trying to free the eyelid but it wasn’t happening. Finally, with his sticky fingers, he reached up and popped the eye open. “NO!” he maintained. But Dad knew better.
It’s kind of cute when a kid tries to keep a secret –but not for you and me. It ain’t cute. But it is common. Samson found some unclean honey and conveniently omitted the truth about where he got it. Did you catch how comfortable he was keeping that a secret? What about you?
“He doesn’t have to know what time I got home last night.”
“I can tell her I had just two drinks.”
“I’ll tell them I dropped it in the mail two days ago and it must be delayed.”
Truth-telling, or a lack thereof rather, is probably one of the earliest signs of compromise. This is early in Samson’s life but it’s a foretelling of what is to come.
Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” - Judges 15:7 (NIV)
There’s a gesture with one of my fingers that I use regularly in the car when things get a little heated. Now, before you go doubting my integrity I need to clarify that it’s always a big, smiley thumbs up waving in the air. See, I made the decision a while back that the best way to deal with a road-rage-aholic is to kill them with kindness. When they’re swerving, cursing, and waving another finger at me, I just smile back and give the thumbs up. Truthfully, it evokes more animosity than peace. But at least I know I’ve not given into the torrent of rage. Seemingly normal people end up on the news for outrageous acts of anger simply because of a biffed merge on the highway. There’s something to that.
See, anger is an interesting game-piece in the schemes of compromise. Samson, here, is a good example. He’s offended (and rightfully so, I might add). But his response is, “I won’t stop until I get my revenge.” His rage is so strong that he vows a perpetual movement toward revenge until he is vindicated. Anger quickly gets us to a place of “I won’t stop until….” That also means, “I won’t stop, even if it means compromising who I am, what I believe, or what I know is right.”
Anger breeds entitlement and entitlement breeds compromise. If you’re angry about something (or a lot of things), you may be on a path to a concession.
Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” - Judges 16:7 (NIV)
This past year I bought a motorcycle. (It wasn’t until a friend jokingly took a jab that I was having a midlife crisis that I realized that was probably true. But, let’s put the inevitable decay of our bodies aside to discuss one of my earliest lessons learned from being a motorcycle guy.) There’s a lot of comparison in that world. I bought a 1974 Honda CB450. That means it’s an old bike without a lot of horsepower. For me, it was saving gas mileage and preserving my truck that boasts nearly 300,000 miles. But when you pull up to a red light next to another motorcycle guy, they love to rev their engine and blast off the line. It’s as if to say, “I’m better than youuuuuuuu!” as they speed away. No bother to me, though. I know my little bike doesn’t compare. I watched them get smaller and smaller and think, “I’m secure with myseeeeeelf!”
But Samson didn’t think that way. Have you caught this little part of his story? “...as weak as any other man.” Okay, bro, we know you’ve got God-given strength and are the mighty Samson. But, apparently, you like to point that out. This whole dialogue is about how strong he is but, multiple times throughout, Samson points that out to Delilah. He’s the guy at the gym who’s counting his reps really loud and ending with, “I don’t know if you heard me counting, I did over a thousand.” He’s not just okay with being who he is. He’s got some insecurities that need to make sure everyone knows who he is compared to everyone else. That’s a bad recipe for compromise. When you constantly compare yourself to others, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep the lead on them.
So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.” - Judges 16:6 (NIV)
Of all my fleshly desires, the one with the greatest control in my life comes from a bag of Santita’s tortilla chips and a bowl of guacamole. I lose control when it comes to chips and guac. There’s something in me that compromises everything I know about nutrition, weight loss, and healthy eating habits when the guac is in the fridge. The guac beckons to me, “I AM INEVITABLE,” and eventually I give in and indulge myself.
We’re wrapping up the week with Samson’s greatest compromise. This is where he finally pays the price for all the little compromises he made along the way. He’s been this arrogant, raging liar his whole life and it finally cuts him down at the knees when Delilah enters the story. And why does it finally catch up? Because she found out Samson’s kryptonite; Desire. Specifically, fleshly desire leads a lot of people to compromise a lot of things. You can pick up your Bible or turn on the news and see how someone’s fleshly desire led them down a path of murder, lies, power-hungry fits of rage, and all sorts of bizarre things. People do insane things when they give in to their fleshly desires. And that’s exactly how Samson ended up blind, shaved, and in shackles. We all have desires of the flesh and we all need to keep them in check.
Fleshly desires lead to compromise. You need to identify yours today. Is it sex? Food? Money? Power? Significance? Recognition? Make sure you know what those are and have an honest discussion with God about them today. Want to go further? Tell someone else what those desires are and ask for accountability.Share Tweet