Around the turn of the millennium, most Americans were following a sport we knew very little about or even cared about until that time. Lance Armstrong was dominating the Tour de France like no one else. All of a sudden people were wearing yellow “Live Strong” bracelets and watching cycling. His story was compelling since he had overcome cancer and found a way to dominate a sport we cared nothing about. People accused him of cheating, but that’s what losers do…we thought. When it came out he was, it was hard to take. We’re familiar with how strict athletes are with their diet, their exercise and discipline. We chalked his success up to that instead of him doing the unthinkable.
The Bible tells the stories of everyday people, their choices and the results. Samson was a man who had taken a Nazarite vow from birth. It was a very disciplined life. He couldn’t cut his hair, drink wine or be near a dead body. It was a life of abstinence from indulgence in order to honor God. Samson followed the vow, but found ways to indulge himself in other areas that cost him his life and reputation. However, he wasn’t the only one to be a Nazarite. Samuel was given the same vow as a kid. The difference was that he honored the commitment in all areas of his life. God honored him and the people respected him. His commitment to his vow resulted in a life that was distinguished. He had seen from his predecessor Eli what happens when people indulge in their fleshly desires over their commitment to God.
1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever” (TPT). Paul compares us to an athlete here who is disciplined in all areas of their life. We all have the choice to honor God in all aspects of our lives or to honor Him in some areas and to indulge in others. It’s human nature to follow in the steps of Lance Armstrong and Samson. They’re examples of what happens when we give into our flesh. Samuel is an example of someone who is Spirit led. That’s the life we’ve been called to and the one we committed to when we accepted Christ. It’s not about being perfect or even trying to use our behavior to honor God. It’s understanding we’re called to a life of discipline with our eyes on eternity. We shouldn’t be trying to see what we can get away with and still get to Heaven. Instead, we should seek God and try to honor Him in all areas of our life.