Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Haircuts and holiness

I just want to say at the outset that this will be a rambly kind of post reflective of the rambly kind of thoughts going on in my rambly kind of brain. I'm thinking there's a point to be made, but whether it is to be made clearly or not, that is the question.

My favorite Sunday school teacher taught on the life of Samson this past Sunday, kind of "This Is Your Life: Samson edition." Certainly there are many lessons to be learned and warnings to be heeded there in the four chapters of Judges describing the life and death of Samson. By no means do I intend to suggest that my thoughts here comprise the only application to be drawn, nor even a direct application. This is what occurred to me as we studied...

In allowing his hair to be cut, Samson was in effect denying the vow that had set him apart. He was to be a Nazrite from birth, set apart by God for the specific purpose of beginning the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines. His hair marked him as a Nazrite; his new 'do courtesy of Delilah marked a departure from that which distinguished him.

I began to think of the ways that God has called and commanded us to live set apart, distinguished, marked as belonging to Him...and how so often we effectively allow our hair to be cut, denying those very things that make us different from the world around us. Consider:

Our discontent. This is a topic the Holy Spirit persists in teaching me. My wants, my desires, my dissatisfaction mirror that of the world. We Christians in this affluent and indulgent culture have adopted the world's attitude of more, more, more. How easily I rationalize my lust for material things! How quickly I give into discontent! In contrast, the Word tells us that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses, and that we are to be content with such things as we have. Godliness with contentment is great gain, and by our contentment, our self denial, our sacrificial giving not just out of our abundance but even out of our need, we ought to be set apart as His. (See 2 Cor. 8:2-3, 1 Tim. 6:6, Heb. 13:5, Luke 12:15)

Our observance of the Sabbath. My pastor preached on this very topic Sunday, the truth of which prompted much squirming and discomfort! How flippant we sometimes can be with our responsibility to not forsake meeting together, often viewing Sabbath observance as legalism, forgetting that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and we are to honor Him as such (Mark 2:27-28), calling the Sabbath a delight (Is. 58:13-14). Instead, we call it a day off, or a day to sleep in, or an opportunity to worship our own self indulgence...

Our roles as women. I don't like the "submit" word either. Actually, there was a time when I reasoned that surely God didn't intend that word to mean what it obviously means. Surely He was mistaken, I thought to myself. He wasn't. He's not. He intends, no, He commands us as wives to submit to our husband's authority and leadership. Way back in the Garden of Eden, the Lord told Eve her desire would be for her husband, and we women have sought to be in charge and in control ever since. Here again we've effectively cut our hair by believing the lies of our culture that to be woman in the fullest sense is to rule over our husbands, bossing and berating, criticizing and controlling. Yet it is God's command to us to submit, to influence our husbands with the purity and reverence of our lives, to adorn ourselves with the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight (1 Pet. 3:1-4). His charge to us to be "self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to [our] husbands, so that no one will maligh the word of God." (Titus 2:5) Ask yourself: do we? Are we?

As His people, belonging to Him, we are to be holy as He is holy. Set apart, different, distinctive. I'm not saying culture has no relevance, nor that we are separate ourselves from those around us. There is a huge difference in separation and being separate. We are in this world not to blend in but shine as stars piercing the darkness that pervades the lives of those lost and doomed. Am I living distinctively...or am I denying those very commands and imperatives that set me apart? Let's take one (of many) lessons from the life of Samson: say no to the scissors and yes to holiness.

10 comments:

  1. This is such a powerful lesson. One of my favorite quotes is "contentment is destroyed by comparison." When I start getting into comparing with others, I get discontented. Instead I must focus on Christ, in whom I can be wholly content and satisfied.

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  2. So, so, true. And how slowly it can creep in, like the proverbial frog in a pot of water set to boil. We think our one little weakness or indulgence won't make a difference, realizing we've compromised it all only after the pot is boiling or the pieces of hair are strewn across the floor.

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  3. Awwwh....like a breath of fresh air. So good. So true! Such perfect reflections for us to think on regularly! Thank you!

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  4. Lisa, we are SO on the same page right now! In fact, I taught on Samson this past Sunday. Our material focused more on what happens pre-Delilah. Samson had already broken his Nazarite vow 20 years before he met Delilah...by wanting to marry a Philistine woman whom he'd never met, by walking through the vineyard, and killing (then eating) the lion. (Numbers 6 outlines the Nazarite vow.) We see Delilah as his downfall, but in truth it started long before.

    In my personal study time, the Lord has been whacking me over the head about having too much stuff. This past week, I've been in John 3, which has spoken to me about being content with what He's given.

    Sorry to hijack your blog...but, gal, this is good stuff you're sharing!

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  5. Kelly, I love your quote: "contentment is destroyed by comparison."

    The truth is that I'm beginning to hate my stuff. "Stuff" is this thing I have to take care of all the time! I'm tired of taking care of all this stuff! It just irritates me. I've stopped buying it. Even clothes.

    That said, I did just post about gratitude and blessings the other day on my Devotions blog. I love the quotes I included from Penelope Stokes. The post is entitled "collect them all" if anyone is interested. (look for it in the navigation bar on the right of my main blog.)

    I've got to go. I'm boxing up stuff for Goodwill. Seriously.

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  6. I'm new to your blog and I wanted to tell me you've challenged and encouraged me with your words.

    In my quiet time this morning I was reminded of the fact that God's vision for us is not for our happiness in the short term. We are to have eternity in our hearts. I fall so often in this! How do we walk it out irl?!

    Thanks for this quiet reminder. I will come back and read more:)

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  7. hmmm. I just read what I wrote earlier. I should clarify. I see "stuff" and blessings very differently. "Stuff" would be things I don't love which have somehow made it into my house. Things purchased with no restraint, no consideration. Blessings can be tangible objects, but more often the blessing is the ability to attain these objects more than the actual procurement. I'm focused on extracting the stuff from the blessings. I want to be more intentional about what I bring into my house. To be a better steward of the blessings I have which allow me to buy stuff. Does that make sense?

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  8. Thanks for these powerful thoughts. Praise to our beautiful God.

    Kelli

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  9. hmmm. I just read what I wrote earlier. I should clarify. I see "stuff" and blessings very differently. "Stuff" would be things I don't love which have somehow made it into my house. Things purchased with no restraint, no consideration. Blessings can be tangible objects, but more often the blessing is the ability to attain these objects more than the actual procurement. I'm focused on extracting the stuff from the blessings. I want to be more intentional about what I bring into my house. To be a better steward of the blessings I have which allow me to buy stuff. Does that make sense?

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