“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:5-8.
Dictionaries usually define conviction as a fixed or strong belief. Conviction is really much more than that. Your convictions include your values, commitments and motivations. Many of us, however, live our lives by default or by personal preferences. Default living means that we steer our lives by falling in line with the culture and expectations around us. We are carried along with the current, figuring it is easier to just go with the flow.
Then over time we transition into personal preferences mode. Personal preferences include: What do I like, and want, and choose to name a few. Preferences are often based on the mood we are in. They become rules we live our lives by. But as we grow as Christians we come to the realization that God wants us to step out of the flow, to lay down our reactions, and to live by conviction.
To live by conviction requires that we recognize objective truth as God defines it. Reading the Bible will illuminate the convictions, the core issues of life, in morals, personal standards, lifestyle choices, spirituality, family, and faith. These convictions should guide our life. Jesus radically lived by conviction. A default life could never have led to the cross; a personal preferences life could never have saved others. Jesus lived first with the conviction of His own identity, choosing to lay aside social norms and expectations for the sake of following God’s path. Jesus’ convictions were so strong that He could not be swayed, baited, or tricked, no matter how hard His enemies tried.
If your life is going to make an impact on others, they can’t merely hear our convictions spoken; they must see our convictions lived. When we live a faithful, consistent example of the things we believe, people will seek us out and invite us to share our convictions with them. Remember that faith without works is dead, as James reminds us; what we do not live, we do not really believe.
So whatever I do I do it for the Lord. If I forgive someone who has hurt me, I do it because I believe it honors God. I don’t cheat on that test because everybody else did, because I believe it honors my Lord. If I serve every week in the church, I do it because I believe it honors my Lord.
Living by conviction is hard. It will challenge you. It requires reexamination and deliberation. But, it will infuse your life with power and purpose and leave a lasting legacy.
- Think about your walk with Jesus, and make a list of the convictions you now hold. Are your convictions weak on any major issues?
- How have you seen your convictions affect decisions you’ve made? Is there a time when you made a decision that was not based on your convictions?
- On what issues do you need to take a stand based on your convictions?