The Wantonness of Self-Confidence (11-12-17)

Self-confidence is, without a doubt, a key component for any person seeking to accomplish set goals. Several athletic champions have revealed in the past that before the deciding game, in their mind they were already crowned as the victors of the coveted prize. Indeed, to believe in oneself is a precious asset to have when faced with defying challenges that tend to arrive unexpectedly . However, it is important and wise to realize that too much self-confidence can become a greater threat than the challenge itself. To become overconfident is to become one’s own worst enemy. This mentality leads to the self-deceit of entitlement and invisibility, especially if the achievement had been considered to be an impossibility. This, no doubt, was in the mind of the apostle Paul as he warned the Gentiles at Rome “do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either” (Romans 11:18-21, emphasis added). The bitter enmity between Jews and Gentiles is well documented in the inspired pages of the Bible. Holy Writ illuminates the cruel discrimination of the Jews toward Gentiles as the bitter root for their disdain of one another. For this reason, it comes as no surprise that when God chose “to provoke them [the Jews] to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles” it would become tempting for the Gentiles to feel a sense of superiority toward the Jews (Romans 11:11, emphasis and addition mine). Thus, the Holy Spirit remedied this peril through the quill of Paul by reminding them that this blessing was a product of God’s grace and not human merit. The same lesson was taught to the brethren in Corinth who had become victims of believing that certain talents (i.e. speaking in tongues) placed that member in higher prestige among other members of the congregation (1st Corinthians 12:1-11, 14:1-5). The apostle reminds the brethren that every talent is of equal value for God and that “one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1st Corinthians 12:11, emphasis added). Therefore, for a true Christian it is imperative to understand that the spiritual virtues that he possesses have been entrusted to him by the Almighty and not a result of his own doing. Allowing this knowledge to dwell in the mind is the best way to diffuse the threat of presumption. A person who allows vain thoughts of greatness to fester, loses control of his emotions and self-confidence transforms to haughtiness. The severity of this spiritual poison is sadly exhibited in a man who ignored his Nazirite vow. After foolishly revealing to Delilah the source of his strength, Samson is alerted that his enemies were upon him. Holy Scripture declares that Samson rose from his slumber thinking, “’I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him” (Judges 16:20, emphasis added). It is important to research this portion of Scripture very cautiously and not make the error to believe that Samson’s strength came from his actual hair. Observe the clarification made by the inspired writer in the final portion of our selected pericope. God reveals to the studious reader that Samson was defeated by the Philistines because He had departed from him. The true reason for his tragic capture is often limited to the removal of his seven locks. Yet, Samson himself reveals the true source of his power to be that “no razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (Judges 16:17, emphasis added). The term Nazirite in the Bible was applied to those who had been consecrated or devoted to God. A man or a woman could chose to take the vow of a Nazirite during a specific amount of time (Numbers 6:1-5). However, in the case of Samson, his vow would be from birth until the day of his death (Judges 13:4-7). The man that walked the path of the Nazirite vow had “to separate himself to the Lord” and “all the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow” (Numbers 6:2, 5, emphasis added). According to Biblical scholars, the long hair on a man served as an easy marker to identify him as someone consecrated to Jehovah God. It was highly respected by the people of Israel as a symbol of holiness and to remove the locks before the appointed time was sacrilege. Therefore because Samson’s Nazirite vow was a permanent one, this means that he could never allow a razor to come upon his head or this would constitute a violation of his holy vow. Thus, his comment of being “like any other man” is a reference to his Divine consecration identified by his untouched locks. The sad truth that Samson emulated Esau in not valuing the gift that God had granted him, set him up for his inevitable failure. It is wise to understand that both these men arrogantly rejected Jehovah God by their unappreciative approach to their special blessing. In the case of Samson, the love of woman weighed more than his devotion to the Lord. He became a victim to his presumption believing that God would still bless him with strength and deliverance, despite his sacrilege. Curiously enough, Esau also erroneously believed that he was still entitled to the blessing owed to the firstborn even after “for one morsel of food [he] sold his birthright” (Hebrews 12:16, emphasis and addition mine). For this reason, it is highly important to always be grateful to the Lord for his mercy and deliverance. A man’s wisdom reflects in his gratitude enlightened by his humility before God. He who lives his life in obedience and service to the Master trusts that “the Lord lifts up the humble” and understands that if “the righteous cry out…the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 147:6a, 34:17, emphasis added). Undeniably, the fact that Samson was unaware that the Lord had departed from him, confirms that he had come to depend more on his physical strength than God. Sorrowfully, it was this spiritual weakness that siphoned away his special gift.

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