Years ago there was a book entitled The Man in the Mirror by Patrick Morley. It was very popular with men’s groups in the church I attended. I believe it was in the introduction that Morley talked about cultural-Christians—men (and women) who, maybe from their heritage, profess Jesus as God, but live their lives in such a way that they are indistinguishable from the cultural around them.
Samson, one of the judges of Israel, was such a man. In chapter 14 of the book of Judges we read:
1 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
Samson, though responsible for his own actions, was just following the culture. Israel, in spite of all that God had done for them, went through cycle after cycle in the book of Judges—a judge would be raised up and they would follow God’s laws and principles. The judge would die and they would do “what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
And so, they became known as people who did what was right in their own eyes.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. –Judges 17:6
Ever since the Fall, we know how things go when we do what is right in our own eyes. Another way of putting it would be to each his own. Jennifer Knapp touches on this in her song In the Name:
All these years to many ahead to think clear.
some say where’s my crystal ball.
some men play the lottery makin bets against the governments economy.
They say I’d rather be rich than be alive at all.
When men in miry circumstances fall.
it won’t be hard to tell where they placed their resolve.
Some trust in chariots. but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
To each his own won’t lead you home and prob’ly never will.
I won’t trust in the things I do.
they will not stand.
they won’t come through.
Doing what is right in our own eyes (to each his own) will not lead us home, will not save us, will not make today better. It didn’t for Samson and it won’t for us. What shall we do? Deuteronomy 6:18 gives us the answer:
And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers.
We’re not perfect people and never will be; we sin; we do what is right in our own eyes; we follow the lead of the culture. As Paul says in Romans, Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! …There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God used broken vessels like Samson and David and he can and will use us to; all the more so, I believe, as we’re obedient. Like the farmer who does his part (tilling the land, planting the seed, etc.) we need do our part in obedience and trust the Lord to do his part (bring the rain and sunshine in the case of the farmer). Paul alludes to the farmer in the sixth chapter of Galatians:
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Samson was not obedient. He did not trust God to do His part and provide a suitable wife; he gave into the culture and did what was right in his own eyes. May we be people who do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.