For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." (1 Corinthians 1:25-29)
Recently I visited a Christian bookstore. After looking around for a few minutes I was unable to find any books worth reading amid the rows of shallow and worthless "self-help" books with covers adorned by smiling, well-dressed preachers telling me how I can "maximize my potential." As I went to leave, something in the corner of the store caught my eye. It was a set of "Samson muscles" that children can strap on to their arms to look just like Samson!
On the surface this toy is just a bit of harmless fun, but later I got to thinking how as Christians we often think God’s work can be accomplished by human strength, and in so doing we rob God of the glory due His Name.
The Book of Judges tells us that among Samson’s exploits, he tore a lion apart with his bare hands (14:6), struck down 30 Philistine men (14:20), caught 300 foxes and tied their tails together (15:4), slaughtered 1,000 men with a donkey’s jawbone (15:15), tore off the city gate of Gaza and carried it to the top of a hill (16:3), and finally, he pushed down the pillar holding up the Philistine temple, killing 3,000 people (16:30). Despite Samson’s moral failures, the New Testament lists him as one of the great heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11:32).
Did Samson indeed have huge bulging muscles like all the drawings of him in children’s Bible story books? Did he perform those mighty acts because of huge muscles, or because of God’s mighty power? Some Bible scholars believe the city gate and posts of Gaza, which Samson tore down and carried off on his shoulders, weighed about four tons. Could the strongest man in the world today lift four tons? Of course not! He would immediately be crushed like an ant. If Samson was a huge, strongly built man, would the Philistines have been so confused that they got Delilah to continually beg Samson to tell her the source of his strength?
No, Samson’s superhuman strength wasn’t the result of bulging muscles. The source of his strength was the Holy Spirit. Several times the Bibles tells us that "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power." I wonder if God made a point, and one day we will discover Samson was actually a small, scrawny man!
In Christian ministry we have also learned there are two ways to operate—in our own strength (which achieves nothing except burnout and frustration), or in God’s strength (which achieves things of eternal value). As Christians we don’t need "Samson muscles." Rather, we need to serve in humility and seek God’s grace and strength. One day we will all be required to stand before God and give an account of our lives and work. May it be found that we didn’t attempt to do God’s work in our own strength, for such efforts will be shown to consist merely of "wood, hay and stubble." It will be "burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (I Corinthians 3:15).
May we rely on His divine power to motivate and complete the tasks He has called us to!