Well into my thirties, I learned how unchecked optimism can blind us to the detrimental effects of an unsound relationship. Projecting what we want to see in an individual leaves us with a false picture, not only of the other person’s motives, but of our own. When a close relationship brought a series of disappointments, I realized the truth behind the saying: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Our hearts are the gateway to our decision-making, the directional source for our lives (Proverbs 4:23). Judges details the high cost to Samson, one of Israel’s judges, when he was reckless in his relationships (Judges 14:1-2, Judges 16:1), failing to understand that intimately loving someone grants that person access to our inner world.

The final thread of Samson’s downfall was his relationship with Delilah (Judges 16:4). Delilah understood that access can lead to wealth and influence (Judges 16:5). She succeeded not only in drawing Samson’s attention away from his relationship with God, but in delivering him to his enemies (Judges 16:5,18). With each request, Delilah revealed her desire was to make herself rich at Samson’s expense (Judges 16:5-6,10,13).

Unwavering in her resolve, Delilah would never have been a safe person for Samson because her decisions were based only in self-interest (Judges 16:15-16). She was consistent, even when Samson wasn’t. Because he didn’t guard his heart, Samson eventually gave up the secret that led to his capture and death (Judges 16:17-18,20,30).

Intimacy isn’t to be feared when cultivated in the soil of spiritual health. But that’s only possible when we make Jesus our primary source of affirmation and trust Him above our own hearts.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Mark 4:1-29