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The dark side of success

Dec. 9, 2017 | by Wayne Cordeiro

Samson is someone who had reached success but didn’t have the inner strength to sustain that success and the pressure of that success destroyed his life. He was someone who had a great start, but a poor ending.

When the Philistines surrounded Israel as their enemies, God raised up Samson as a judge. God gave him divine strength, great gifts and the ability to bring people together and catalyze them. But because of his lack of stewardship and his lack of inner strength, success started to weigh on Samson. He didn’t have the inner fortitude.

God’s grace

God’s grace was on Samson with hope that he would repent and change his heart. One of the things we need to define correctly is God’s grace — it is God relenting and not causing any retribution on you. When God rushes in, it’s not because He wants to punish, but because He wants to save.

The greatest test is prosperity

The greatest test is the test of prosperity through success. We’re very vulnerable to testing because pride can set in.

There were some tests in Samson’s life. Will we get tested like Samson?

Three alarms to failure

1. Circumventing accountability

What were some of the warning lights that came Samson’s way? What was the telltale sign that he was going the wrong way? He circumvented accountability.

We all have the tendency to circumvent accountability. God will put filters of accountability in place to guard us from our own temporary appetites. Samson’s filter was his parents.

“Then his father and his mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’ But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she looks good to me’” (Judges 14:3).

Samson just decided to circumvent authority. One of the dangers of success is the more successful you become, the less accountability is required. When you become more successful, accountability becomes more voluntary. Don’t mitigate its importance. Accountability is so crucial and is something we must choose.

2. Using what God gave for the wrong purposes

The second telltale sign that Samson just fell was using what God gave him for the wrong purposes. Samson was given unusually divine strength. But what did he do? He used his position to get women, to get party favors and sexual favors. He burst out in anger. He would use what God gave him for personal gain for wrong purposes.

“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

God had given Samson strength. Would you agree that whatever strength God gives to you is a gift from God?

When you use what God gave you for wrong purposes, it brings deception. That’s exactly what happened to Samson. It made him so vulnerable to deception.

Enter Delilah and now, Samson’s life is coming to a close. The Philistines hire her for 1,100 pieces of silver to find out the secret of his strength.

“Then she said to him, ‘How can you say, “I love you,” when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is’” (Judges 16:15).

Samson tells Delilah the secret of his strength—if his hair is cut, then God’s strength will leave him—and she shaves his head. Then the Philistines came upon him.

3. Compromise and remorse

“She said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes …” (Judges 16:20-21).

Compromise and remorse. Samson didn’t heed any of the warnings. He did not know that the Lord had departed from him and the Philistines seized him.

Because of Samson’s strength, prosperity and success, he figured he was immune from anything. He thought he was immune from consequences and immune from accountability. Pride set in and God gave him chance after chance. Even though he went after woman after woman and made foolish mistakes, God stayed with him. But instead of changing his heart, Samson figured there were no consequences because of God’s grace.

We must learn from Samson’s example. God has such great promises for our lives. It’s my prayer that we heed His warnings, change our hearts and never take His grace for granted in order to accomplish His will!

This article was first published Used with permission.

Photo source: istock 

Wayne Cordeiro

Wayne Cordeiro is the founding pastor of New Hope Oahu, one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, New Hope Oahu is known for redeeming the arts and technology for the Kingdom of God. 

New Hope Oahu has seen more than 73,000 first-time decisions in Hawaii since its inception in 1995. Cordeiro is a church planter at heart, with more than 130 churches planted in the Pacific Rim countries of the Philippines, Japan, Australia and Myanmar. Nationally, Cordeiro has planted churches in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. 

New Hope Oahu consists of six main campuses located throughout the island of Oahu with 6,000 weekend worshipers. After 21 years of being a mobile church, New Hope Oahu is currently investing in a permanent church home through the “Future and a Hope” building campaign. The vision behind the campaign is to not only create a permanent central hub for the church, but also to continue to expand the impact of the Kingdom of God. The new edifice will contain a parking structure, expo center, overflow auditorium, café, bookstore and restrooms, providing New Hope Oahu with adequate facilities needed to support the church’s programs to reach the surrounding community.  

Cordeiro believes in investing in future leaders and releasing the God-given potential of the new generation. Cordeiro enjoys working with the students and staff at New Hope Christian College in Eugene, Oregon and Pacific Rim Christian University in Honolulu, Hawaii. He serves as a guest lecturer and equips pastors and leaders from all over the world. 

Cordeiro has authored 12 books total, including classics such as Doing Church as a Team, The Dream Releasers, The Seven Rules of Success, Attitudes That Attract Success, The Divine Mentor, Leading on Empty, The Irresistible Church, Sifted, and his latest, Jesus, Pure and Simple. Cordeiro is also the author of the Life Journal, which is being used by thousands of churches worldwide to bring people back to the Word of God. In 2016, the LifeConnect Bible was released, in partnership with Zondervan. Cordeiro’s vision behind the LifeConnect Bible (NIV version) is to allow people to leave a legacy to future generations by writing in their Bible and documenting their spiritual journey in its pages, which are filled with insightful commentaries and inspirational quotations. 

Cordeiro and his wife, Anna, have three married children and nine grandchildren. Cordeiro’s hobbies include playing music, reading, and being hands-on with horse training and boarding. The Cordeiros now split their time between Hawaii and Oregon, where they have a family ranch.

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