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Have you ever dug a hole in your garden only to later trip on it?  Or maybe you’ve dropped your pen, picked it up and promptly dropped it again.  Or perhaps you’ve lost the same item (your keys?) multiple times in the same week.  It happens.  Perhaps you get distracted by your own thoughts or someone talking to you.  You might be tired or hungry or have a headache.  There are countless reasons we make the same mistakes over and over again and when it’s a little thing like dropping a pen or misplacing keys, it’s easy to laugh about later. 

On the other hand, great frustration comes when we make big mistakes over and over again.  And when that mistake is giving in to a certain temptation, that frustration pairs up with guilt and then brings shame along for the ride.  Judges 16 tells the story of someone who, after (just barely) resisting a temptation, gives in with tragic consequences. 

Four times Delilah begged Samson to tell her why he was so strong.  Each time he told her what to do to sap his strength, she did it, called the Philistines in and ambushed him.  The first three times, Samson lied and the Philistines were unable to capture him.  So why, oh why, did he tell her the truth?  I think he did it for the same reason we often fall into the same sins over and over again: 

  1. Delilah played the “If you love me” card (Judges 16:15).  Sometimes we do things we know we have no business doing because we want to please someone else.  Sometimes we do things we have no business doing because we are tired of feeling alone or rejected or because we hope that by giving in, we’ll get something we want.
  2. Samson got tired of Delilah’s constant nagging (Judges 16:16).  Sometimes we just give into temptation because we’re tired of trying to resist it.
  3. Samson underestimated the seriousness of the situation.  He had no business even flirting with the truth in this situation.  If we are really following God and soaking up His Word, we’ll recognize temptation for what it is and run away from it immediately, rather than playing with it (James 4:7).
  4. Samson underestimated the seriousness of God’s commands (Judges 16:17).  Just like Samson, we are set apart by God and are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Sometimes, temptation is so attractive that we forget that God has given us strict instructions regarding our behavior.  We’re so interested in doing what we want to do (or what our “friends” want us to do) that we forget that we are marked with Christ’s Name, we are His and we have no business messing around with sin.

It’s so easy to hear someone else’s story and assume that, given the same set of circumstances, we would react differently.  But our own pasts prove that assumption wrong.  If we want to avoid the oh-so-attractive traps of sin, our only hope is to

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7-10)   

What Biblical character do you find yourself criticizing the most?  What can you learn about your own actions from that character?