Three Signs that You Serve in the Flesh

I really believe that every Christian should have a ministry. Not everyone needs a “stand up in front of others and speak” ministry, or a ministry that requires full-time support. The reality is, however, that no man is an island, and since one is always touching other people’s lives, he should use his life as an opportunity to serve others and glorify God.

Put another way, every Christian *HAS* a ministry; the question is: are you going to embrace it and be led by the Spirit of God, or are you going to serve in the weakness of the flesh. In the book of Judges, we find the story of an unlikely minister – Samson. His life was such a tragedy that we may wonder, “Could God even use him?!”

Samson’s ministry was thrust upon him from before birth, but he was never really thrilled about it. Even his parents thought that his life choices prevented him from being used by God, but that was not so. Judges 14:4 says this, “But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”

In our pride and in our critical spirits, we think that God uses us because we are pretty awesome and make great Christ-honoring choices. However, if God could use a donkey to speak the truth to Balaam (in Numbers 22) or the heathen king, Cyrus, to enable God’s people to rebuild the temple, he can certainly whoever he will.

Samson was useful to the Lord – but imagine how much better it would have been if he had not served in the flesh. Imagine how different his life would have been had He willingly lived to glorify God! Let’s take a look now at three signs that you, like Samson, might be serving in the flesh.

First of all, Samson was Motivated by Anger.

Judges 14:19 says, “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.”

The first part of this verse shows how that Samson was used by God to get at the Philistines. However, the verse ends by noting his anger. It was as if his ministry allowed him access to the Spirit of God, to do a good thing, but he did so with an angry, selfish motivation.

We should not be fooled into thinking that our anger is a good thing, because it seems to produce desired results from time to time. The Bible clearly tells us in Ephesians 4 to put away *ALL* wrath and anger. Surely things are going to come in life to make us angry; in the case of Samson, these things came about as a result of his own choices. However, we are supposed to put that anger away from us, and allow the Spirit of God to work instead.

Truly the Spirit of God was at work with Samson, but imagine how much better it would have been if his anger had not been present. With his fleshly anger out of the way, the Spirit of God would have had more freedom to show that this was the work of God, not the vengeance of an angry man.

Secondly, Samson’s Heart Was in the Wrong Place.

When Samson got in trouble with Delilah, the Bible says this in Judges 16:17-18, “That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. (18) And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.”

Samson’s heart should have been dedicated to God, motivated and controlled by the Spirit of God. Instead, he gave his heart to Delilah, and that ultimately cost him his eyes and then his life.

How often do we see men and women of God who are grudgingly serving God. It is like it has been thrust upon them, but their hearts are elsewhere! Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with “all thine heart” and the result will be the step-by-step direction of God in our lives.

If you are trusting the Lord with *all* your heart, then any other relationships and pursuits will be motivated and in alignment with the heart of God. Oh what a different story Samson’s life could have been had he submitted to the Lord with all his heart!

Finally, Samson’s Service to the Lord Required Personal Vindication.

Judges 16:28 says, “And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson would go on to kill himself and more Philistines than he had previously in all events put together.

His life ended here, with Samson looking to be avenged – vindicated – justified, in his very last breath. He was okay with God’s work being accomplished, but this was personal. This was for him – not for God.

When I think of many other servants of God whom He used to bring deliverance to God’s people, I see men like Gideon, and women like Deborah, who completely surrendered their hearts and lives to be used by God. When God brought deliverance, they glorified Him for his might acts, and lived to see the goodness of God and the peaceful liberty of His people. Not so with Samson. He lived in the flesh and died, still seeking validation. He never got to see the results of God’s deliverance.

I wonder how much time and deliverance is lost when we live our lives like Samson! What does it cost when we must be justified in the eyes of others? What effectiveness is lost when we will glorify God, but only if we get something out of it, too?

Remember, Christian, you have a ministry! Are you going to embrace it by allowing the Spirit of God to guide you step by step, or are you going to live life in the flesh like Samson? Either way, God will be glorified, but it is much sweeter to be part of glorifying God instead of serving as a bad example.