In Meekness, Strength

This Sunday’s sermon at Holston View UMC in Weber City, Va., will be “Samson!” It will be based on stories found in Judges 13-16. If you want to view the sermon but cannot be present, the entire worship service will be available through Holston View UMC’s web page.

Today’s preparatory text: Matthew 5:5 (NRSV)

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

By Chuck Griffin

When we hear the story of Samson, it’s unlikely the word “meek” immediately springs into our minds.

Samson was all bluster and fury, set aside to do God’s work in driving back the Philistines. He also was a lover of war and women. He was monstrously, supernaturally strong and at times showed hints of cleverness. He had seven long, flowing locks of hair that I’m sure caused many young women to love him back. He was gifted the way a Hollywood action hero seems to be gifted.

His story begins in a manner similar to others in both the Old and New testaments. A need arose in history, and God filled that need by providing a child through a previously barren couple. In Samson’s case, at God’s instruction he was set aside from birth as a nazirite for life, a person dedicated to do the Lord’s work. (Typical nazirite vows were temporary.)

We need to be very clear about one aspect of Samson’s story. Nothing about his life prevented him from being meek. It’s an unfortunate circumstance of the English language that “meek” rhymes with “weak,” and we can be guilty of imposing the meaning of the latter onto the former.

Some translators of Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes, the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, use the word “humble” rather than “meek.” That’s helpful. I’m sure many of us can think of an example of the dynamic but humble man or woman, a presence that could merely loom over us but instead brings comfort.

Sadly for Samson, he found humility the hard and painful way. He had to lose his eyes to gain perspective. We can have similar devastating experiences when we forget that God gave us whatever gifts we have, and that those gifts exist to serve God. We are not to toy with them or misuse them.

As Christians, we are to be a humble people, regardless of our strengths. We are blessed to know that Jesus Christ came and died for our sins. That truth alone should astonish us into meekness, as we consider how the strongest of all humbly sacrificed himself for us.

Lord, help us to count our blessings and spiritual gifts, and then having made an accounting, let us be mindful that any successes we have should be for the benefit of your kingdom. Amen.

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