Convictions Gone Rogue…
Jill is just full of “convictions.” Jill is quite sure she knows the exact ratio of hymns to choruses that are to be sung by the congregation each Lord’s Day AND what style of music said songs are to be played that will be most pleasing to her Lord. It is also her solemn duty to inform the elders who God has placed over Jill just how often communion should be served to the body of believers. Jill is confident in her “convictions” whether it is communion, carpet color, or chewing bubble gum during church.
Unfortunately, while chewing bubble gum was clearly a “no-no” by her standard of right and wrong, Jill has had no problem chewing up and spitting out a sister in Christ with her speech. (If you missed my 2 part blog on “Turning Chatter into Godly Conversation, feel free to go here and here!) Her preferences also had all the right ingredients for the making of divisions within the body of Christ. It seems Jill has lost sight of what is genuinely essential in a self-created fog of her own personal preferences. My pastor said it well on Sunday; “We will always find a religion that aids us in feeling good about ourselves.”
How do we guard our hearts from this fog of our own opinions so we may more clearly see how to love our Savior and others? Oh that we would be more like John Bunyan who said, “It gave me no pleasure to see people drink in my opinions if they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ and the value of being saved by Him.”
Here are some things to consider regarding convictions and preferences:
1. What is a conviction?
Because we certainly live in a culture where absolutes and desire for truth have become virtually non-existent and often frowned upon, it is important to understand the value of spiritual convictions. If convictions were ever needed, it is today! As God’s children, God has revealed His absolute truth for us in His Word. We can praise Him for revealing to us He is the Truth as well as our Standard! Thankfully, the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to counsel and convince us as our Helper, Comforter and Guide. The Holy Spirit reveals truth about God and His character, and enables us to understand it.
Just think, if it were not for conviction of sin, we wouldn’t have salvation to begin with! (John 16:7-11) In a nutshell, Biblical convictions are strong persuasions or beliefs based upon scriptural truths, which are key to practically living a life that pleases the Lord. Thankfully, it is the Holy Spirit’s guidance which keeps us from falling into error. Oh what a glorious gift God has given us!
2. Is it a Conviction or Preference?
It truly is important that we grow in knowing the difference between what is true and false as we grow in both “…the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17,18). It is also crucial we know the difference between what is considered objective (truth oriented) versus what is considered subjective (feeling oriented), as well as what is and is not essential to our faith in Jesus Christ. This is where as believers, the rub can and does take place.
I love what Ravi Zacharias says in this one-minute definition: Have a listen! No doubt, Christians can and do disagree in areas of personal convictions and biblical beliefs. We want to be cautious we don’t land too far on either side of the field when it comes to our preferences. One extreme would be having no convictions at all; walking right into licentiousness as mentioned in Jude 1:4. The other extreme would be an overly desirous need to comprehend everything, leading to legalism, rather than living by faith. Christ speaks to the Pharisees about this very extreme in Luke 11:42.
Like Jill, we can be guilty of allowing the pendulum of preference to swing too far in one direction or the other in our walk with the Lord. I know painfully well my propensity to be just like Eve by misrepresenting what God really says. God told Eve she couldn’t eat of the one tree, but Eve added that she wasn’t even to touch the forbidden fruit. Again, my pastor said Sunday, “If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t live up to our own best standards, much less God’s.” JUST. LIKE. EVE. So, you might ask, where do we find balance? I trust the following questions may be of assistance as we evaluate our spiritual convictions and preferences.
- Do I assess other believers according to my personal convictions and standards, or am I sure of my beliefs while still graciously showing consideration for others? (Romans 14:1-23)
- Do I keep my personal convictions and beliefs that are not clearly defined in God’s Word to a minimum?
- Am I willing to forgo certain freedoms by showing preference towards Christians who may have convictions in those areas? (1 Corinthians 8:4-13) Do I use my freedoms to glorify God as well as build up and do good to others? (1 Corinthians 10:23-33)
- Am I dependent upon God and the Gospel as I live daily by His grace rather than fall into potential danger or disgrace? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Ladies, as we seek for this broken world to come to know the love of our Savior, are we known most by a long list of self made rules, filled with personal preferences and opinions? If so, it may be that our walk (or lack thereof) exemplifies licentiousness having no convictions at all. Pray with me that our neighbors will know us for our love and more importantly, CHRIST’S LOVE! With that being said, I leave you with this last passage for thought, as we prefer one another in love:
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet’, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:8-14).