I love spinach. Love it in salads – especially with grilled salmon, goat cheese and pine nuts. I love it on a turkey sandwich with sourdough bread, a thick slice of avocado, and sharp cheddar cheese. I love spinach sautéed with EVOO, garlic and a pinch of Himalayan Sea salt. Straight up, I guess I’m just a spinach-kind-of-girl. Anyone with me?
Now that we’re clear on my love for this wonderful, dark green leafy veggie, imagine my disappointment when I was told by the evening news that I had to throw out the two bags of fresh spinach in my refrigerator! A few years ago, there was an e-coli outbreak that was linked back to some manufacturing plants in California that process fresh-bagged spinach. Several states across America reported multiple cases of e-coli poisoning. Many hundreds became sick, and one person even died. It was serious.
Initially, I stood in my kitchen for several minutes wanting to ignore the warnings.
I was tempted to ignore the news reports. I thought to myself, I’m sure my bags of spinach are just fine… I hate to waste all of that money… Spinach is good for me…
But alas, I threw out my spinach.
I heeded the warning.
The risks weren’t worth the rewards.
There are times I sense a warning in my soul. Each time the Holy Spirit prompts me with such a warning, I’m also faced with an opportunity to choose my response to it. You are too.
God’s favor was upon Samson from the time he was born. He was given exceptional physical strength that was purposed for God’s plan and glory (Judges 13-16). Over the years, Samson grew rebellious and complacent. He chose to go his own way and lean on his own strength by using his God-given gifts for his own selfish purposes and amusement.
Samson was warned several times about the deceitfulness of his wife, yet he failed to heed the warnings. The deceptive ways of Delilah were just as toxic as the deadliest of e-coli strains but time after time, Samson ignored the warnings and chose to rely on his physical strength to save him.
The results were painful, humiliating and ultimately fatal. Delilah’s betrayal caused Samson to be taken prisoner and beaten. His strength, along with his dignity, was stripped away.
After enduring brutal torture by the Philistines, Samson remembered his need for God. He cried out to the Lord and was divinely helped and redeemed (Judges 16:28-30). God heard Samson’s repentant heart.
God hears every repentant heart.
And the Lord always gives us a way out of tempting situations.
Jesus demonstrated that we should ask God for help with this. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 ESV). Jesus understands our weaknesses, and He faced temptations just like Samson. Just like me. Just like you.
Did you know that the writer of Hebrews describes Samson as a man of faith in chapter eleven? Incredible. What a powerful display of grace! In his story we see that no matter what temptations we’ve given in to, no matter what warnings we’ve failed to heed and no matter what compromises we may have succumbed to, it’s never too late to turn back to God.
During the e-coli spinach scare I had to wait a few weeks to have a spinach salad. I heeded the warnings because the risks weren’t worth the gain. Is there a warning or prompting of the Holy Spirit that you need to heed to today?
Dear Lord, I’m not above temptation. Please help me to recognize and heed the warnings You whisper to my soul. Grant me the courage and strength to run from temptation and resist the enemy’s attempts of deception in my life. Thanks for Your Word that guides each of us when directions seem unclear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
Is there something you’re holding on to that God has been nudging you to release? Is there a temptation in your life you’re flirting with? Have you given in to temptation? Do you need to confess it right now? God is waiting with arms open wide.