“Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Passion is never to govern our lives; principles are supposed to do that. Our passion is to fuel our principles, and our principles are to be in the driver’s seat of our lives. The story of Samson and Delilah is a powerful reminder of what happens when that gets reversed. So get clear about your core convictions—then passionately pursue them!
Going Deep // Focus: Judges 16:4-6
Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.”
What is it that drives you? What motivates you at the deepest core to do what you do? What are the driving convictions of your life? Figure that out and you will have figured out you—who you are, what you are, how you live and where you are headed.
Unfortunately for Samson, one of Israel’s most famous but most flawed judges (the judges were more military deliverers than paragons of moral purity), it was passion that drove him more than principle. Especially his passion for woman, which we also saw in Judges 14, and now again in this famous “love” story in Judges 16 as Samson takes up with a new wife, Delilah. As you read this account with the added benefit of historical hindsight, you wonder why in the world would Samson put up with Delilah’s traitorous antics even once, let alone four times. Why couldn’t he see what we so clearly see?
Easy answer: Samson was driven by passion more than principle. So are a lot of people—perhaps even you. Sometimes I am, too. Now to be sure, God created us with the capacity to be passionate. Without it, we wouldn’t be human. Without it we could never express righteous indignation. Without it, we could never experience compassion. Without it, we might be perfect, but let’s not forget that God rarely chose the perfect, he mostly chose the passionate to accomplish his purposes; imperfect people like King David and the Apostle Peter.
Yet while passion is a God-given capacity, it must be kept in its rightful place. Like any other capacity, it is never to be out of control, it is never to be the master of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Only the Holy Spirit is to control what we think, how we feel and what we do.
So what is the right purpose of our passion? Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this insightful thought: “passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.” By that, our passion is never to govern our lives, our principles are supposed to do that. Our passion is to fuel our principles. Passion will be what elevates what we believe at the deepest core to the level of driving convictions over the long haul of our lives.
Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
I believe one of the main take-away’s from Samson’s life is that we would be wise to think through and then codify what I would call our driving missional convictions. These would be our non-negotiable values, like living for the glory of God alone, ruthless trust in God’s sovereignty, obedience to God’s Word, submission to God’s will, wholehearted love for God—and neighbor, and full-throttled commitment to the Missio Dei—the mission of God. I could go on and on, but for practical purpose, we would benefit most from settling on five to ten missional convictions, then allowing those convictions to drive everything in our lives at all times and in every way—our thoughts, feelings and actions.
In fact, if you want to avoid the Delilah effect, that is, an approach to life that puts passion in the driver’s seat, then I would suggest that you spend some time thinking through your life convictions—like ASAP. Then discuss them with the people in your life whose help you will need to live them out. Finally, codify them and literally place them where you will see them early and often to remind you of what you want your life to be about.
Do that, and then get passionate about them!