Weak is the New Strong
by Craig Groeschel
(Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a pace-setting multicampus church and creators of the popular and free YouVersion Bible App. He is the author of several books including Soul Detox, Weird, The Christian Atheist, It, and the forthcoming Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most (Zondervan, October 2013). Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, Oklahoma.)
Let’s review Samson’s vows:
1. Don’t get drunk.
2. Don’t touch anything dead.
3. Don’t ever cut your hair.
Not exactly rocket science there. But what does Mr. Strong do?
Now [Samson’s] father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. — Judges 14:10
The word feast in this verse is the Hebrew word mishteh (mish-TEH). The word means “feast,” “drink,” “banquet.” It means party. A mishteh is, by definition, a drinking occasion. Samson threw himself a kegger. He called in his buddies and they all got hammered.
His attitude says what many men say: “I’m a strong guy. I can handle a few drinks.” The problem in this case, of course, is that he’s not even supposed to drink at all.
And then we have Mr. I Can Handle It here doing keg-stands.
I want it.
I deserve it.
I can handle it.
Before we judge Samson, let’s be honest about ourselves. How many times have you seen a strong guy turn weak just like this? He thinks, One hit’s not going to kill me. Or, I’m just going to take one of these pills to see what it feels like. Or, I’ll just stay for one drink. He thinks, I can handle it. But before he even realizes it, some substance is handling him.
Maybe you’ve even been that guy.
Maybe substances aren’t your thing. Maybe you’re the guy who thinks, Nice car! I could afford that. Or, Did somebody say “ski boat”? Or, This house just isn’t big enough for our family anymore. You think, Sure, it’ll be tight for awhile financially. But, I can make payments. I can handle it. Only, after awhile, that new ride doesn’t have that “new car smell” anymore. Debt creeps in a little each month, and instead of enjoying your possessions, you start to feel more like they own you.
I know a lot of guys who don’t care about having more things. But when a pretty girl strolls by in a strappy little dress… Oooh, I know I’m not supposed to look, but I want to! Or the Christian guy says to his girlfriend, “Stay. Just a little longer. Let’s just hold each other in our underwear and … talk.” Or he thinks, I’ll just look this one time. I can clear my internet history. Who’s ever going to know? These guys get caught in the snare of “I want it! Besides, I’m a good guy. I deserve a little sex break, a little fun. It’s just one time. I’m not hurting anybody. I can handle it.” And before you know it, “handling it” is exactly what you’re doing.
Because of God’s hand on him, with God’s Spirit strengthening him from the moment he was born, Samson was perhaps the strongest man who ever lived. But because he squanders God’s favor through his attitudes — lust, entitlement, pride — he ends up at rock bottom.
His enemies gouge out his eyes and parade him around like some kind of sideshow freak for their sick entertainment. The man who once killed thousands using nothing but the jawbone of a donkey and brute strength, laid low, humiliated, his prized hair long gone. He could have changed the world. He could have been a weapon for the kingdom of God. He should have been. Instead, his story is a footnote in history, a cautionary tale. But Samson himself chose where he ended up by betraying the One who loved him.
And you have the same choice to make.
If you fall prey to our enemy’s schemes, like Samson did, am I saying you’re going to end up just like him? I sure hope not. But you could do worse. Seriously. Just think about what could happen.
If you lose the fight against temptation, denying God’s call on your life, ignoring the gifts he’s given you, living for yourself instead of for the people he made you to stand in the gap for, you could be even worse off. It’s really not even hard to picture it: You’re in your forties or your fifties or your sixties. You look back on a failed marriage (or more than one) and realize, too late, Idiot! So much of that was my fault. Why didn’t I do something when I could? Why didn’t I engage? Why didn’t I fight? Why didn’t I tell the truth? Ask for help? Confess my sins? I have to live the rest of my life with these regrets.
I know plenty of guys whose kids are all grown now, but they won’t come around at Christmastime. Is that where you’re headed? That not only do your kids have no respect for you, they don’t even want to be in your presence? What are you going to do now to keep that from happening then? Do you have the guts?
Do you have what it takes to be God’s man?
Maybe you’re terrified. You’ve been living with secrets, and you don’t see a way out. But let me share a huge truth from God’s Word. In Luke 12:2 – 3, Jesus said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs”
That’s real, man.
That’s going to happen.
Would you rather be in control of that conversation, or have it happen to you?
It’s so much better to confess your sins and enjoy forgiveness than to be caught in them. There may be a time in your future when your private life becomes public, and you dread seeing anyone because you’re so humiliated by your actions. Let’s not sugarcoat it, guys: that’s where sin leads.
And you know it.
Of course, it doesn’t have to go down that way.
If you choose to follow Christ, there is spiritual greatness within you, a strength to keep going and not stay down. God’s power in your life is that no matter what you’ve done, you can be transformed. You can be new. You can make a difference in this world. You can be a godly man. You can be a godly husband. You can be a godly dad. No matter what’s happened in the past, you can be God’s man. But you do have to keep fighting. You can’t give up.
You have to stop trying to do it in your own strength. Because our spiritual enemy, Satan, is an expert at making strong men weak. Fortunately, and don’t miss this, our good God specializes in making weak men strong.
And God is with you. And He is for you.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Lust says, “I want it.”
Entitlement says, “I deserve it.”
And pride says, “I can handle it.”
But we can turn these around. Once we get our hands on our enemy’s battle plans, we can turn them back on him and take our victory (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Your enemy wants to take you out, through selfishness and shame, tricking you into trading your God-given power for things that tempt your fleshly appetites. But if we can just man up, if we can admit that we’re weak and vulnerable, that we need God’s strength and His presence, then He’ll redeem us and fill us with purpose and meaning.
You can be a man of spiritual strength, a man of integrity, a man of courage. You can be a man who defends the defenseless. You can be a man who serves his wife and his family. You can be a man who unselfishly gives to others.
You can be that man. A warrior.
What kind of strength do you want to fight with? Your feeble strength? Or God’s unlimited, unmatched power?
God loves to make weak men strong.
Will you let him?
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Men, as you read this, you felt convicted and invited by the Holy Spirit to repent over an area of sin. Pause now and go before God and ask Him to forgive you and give you His strength in your area of weakness. Be a bold warrior! We would love to hear what the Lord is doing in your lives. Please join the conversation on our blog! ~ Devotionals Daily