So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. – Galatians 5:16-17.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without emotions? Or if everybody was able to control their emotions. We would all be like Spock on Star Trek. All his responses to all situations are always logical, made without any emotion. But we will never be like Spock because God created us as emotional beings. We feel love, joy, happiness, guilt, anger, disappointment, fear, etc. Sometimes our emotions are productive and sometimes they are not. Either way, emotions can be helpful indicators of what is going on in our hearts.

When we study the life of Samson, we quickly see how his emotions often got the best of him. Usually to his detriment. Samson was set aside at birth by God to save the people from the Philistines. Samson was a man of great potential, but often made self destructive decisions. Last week we saw that he struggled with lust (I want it!), entitlement (I deserve it!), and pride (I can handle it!). This week we look at how Samson was emotion driven, not spirit led. Emotions aren’t always bad, in fact they’re a gift. But, when we let our emotions take over, they become one of the “two forces” fighting each other Paul is talking about in Galatians.

We find in the story of Samson a battle of the riddle. Samson has a competition with a bunch of other guys around a riddle. But he doesn’t leave it at a competition. He adds a bet. Here’s the riddle: “Out of the one who eats came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.” (Judges 14:14)

So the answer to this riddle is a lion and honey. Samson killed a lion, came back later and found in its corpse a bunch of bees and honey. The Philistine men can’t figure it out, so they threaten Samson’s Philistine wife and she cries to Samson and gets the answer from him. He tells her, and she tells them. They solve the riddle and Samson is furious.  He says: “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle.” (Judges 14:18)

Calling your wife a heifer is a bad idea. But back to the story. Instead of being led by the Spirit, Samson becomes driven by his emotions, particularly his anger. He takes the lives of 30 innocent men to pay his bet. Samson then leaves the party, and his wife’s dad thinks that he’s abandoned his daughter so he gives her to another man.  Samson comes back several weeks later and finds that his wife has been given to someone else.  So he takes 300 foxes, ties them together, lights their tails on fire, and sets them loose in the Philistine grain fields. Anger leads to a destructive cycle of violence in Samson’s life. 

Allowing our emotions to control us is a bad idea. Denying our emotions is not a good idea either. Controlling and stewarding our emotions is the idea. The way to manage our emotions is to be spirit led. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) The Holy Spirit is the one who can produce self-control in our lives. “ But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22-23)

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can we learn about emotions in the life of Samson? Do you believe emotions contribute to bad choices?
  2. What emotions are positive and what emotions are negative in your life.
  3. How can we become more Spirit led?
  4. What can we do this week to be more led by the Spirit?