Basically, convictions are your personally-held beliefs that guide the way you live.
In the Bible, there are definite rights, ie. love God, love your neighbors, treat others the way you want to be treated.
And there are definite wrongs, ie. don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t be jealous of what other people have.
The Bible is 100% accurate and perfect in every way and is the ultimate guide to life. But it does not always spell out exactly what to do in every situation.
It’s like the U.S. Constitution. Everything in it is true and relevant, but it requires interpretation in cases not specifically covered in the law.
Sometimes church denominations will hold certain convictions that they expect their members to follow, like abstaining from alcohol or requiring women to wear dresses and have long hair.
But I truly believe that convictions are personal.
The ultimate purpose of convictions are to keep yourself in a place where you are best able to worship God.
Convictions can help you set boundaries to keep you from situations where you would be more likely to make wrong choices.
For example, let’s say Bob gambled for many years. He lost his wife and family because of his addiction and ended up deep in debt. Eventually, he gave his life to Jesus and decided he wanted to leave gambling behind him.
So Bob decided to quit going to casinos and playing card games all together. It’s not that he thinks Solitaire is a sin, but he knows that being around cards could trigger his former desire for gambling. His choice to stay away from cards is helping him focus on living for God, and not dwelling on his past.
Now, Bob doesn’t expect everyone to quit card games and he doesn’t judge anyone that plays them. He just personally chooses not to.
Growing up, my family had 2 major convictions: 1) we didn’t go to movies and 2) we didn’t go to restaurants that served alcohol.
The movie conviction actually used to be part of the Nazarene church’s member covenant. My grandma never went to movies growing up, nor did my mom, nor did my brother and I. It’s not that the movies themselves are inherently evil, but rather the fact that there was no control over what commercials would play and no way to skip over objectionable content.
We usually watch movies on Netflix or Prime, or get DVDs from the library. So while I’m not always current on the latest movies, I end up seeing them eventually. 🙂
I personally am apathetic on this issue. I don’t feel strongly about NOT going to movies, but I don’t really desire to go either. In all honesty, I’m not a movie person. Give me five billion episodes over a movie any day (unless it’s Marvel). Movies are long, expensive, and some theaters have bed bug issues (no thanks!). And, I want to respect my family’s convictions.
However, I do agree with my parents’ conviction about not going to restaurants that serve alcohol. This comes from a very personal place. My dad’s biological father was an abusive alcoholic. My dad and his nine brothers and sisters were placed in foster homes from a young age and there have been so many health and mental problems among my aunts and uncles that came from his drinking.
Alcohol is literally in my family’s blood and one drink could lead to a lifetime addiction. So my parents always felt strongly about staying away from it as much as possible. There are still several excellent restaurants that don’t sell alcohol and we’d prefer to go there than be exposed to something that destroyed my family.
But here’s the thing: not everyone has to agree.
Growing up, I always thought that we didn’t go to movies or restaurants that served alcohol because that was the “Christian” thing to do.
I always wondered how people at church and school could be Christians if they went to those restaurants and theaters. I didn’t understand what convictions were at all.
And then, I read Romans 14. I highly encourage that everyone reads this chapter. It completely changed the way I viewed convictions.
The Apostle Paul wrote Romans during a time of major change for the church. After Jesus died and rose again, salvation became possible for Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were still used to the law and their traditional customs. Gentiles didn’t have these same customs.
There became major debates as to what was necessary for faith and what didn’t really matter in the long run.
One huge issue was food. Under the Jewish law, there were many foods considered “unclean”. It was also common that meat was sacrificed to idols in those days.
So some believers only ate vegetables. They knew it was kosher and there was no idolatry connected to it. Others argued that God made all food and it was fine to eat whatever.
Paul basically tells the Romans to not condemn others for their beliefs. In verse 6 (NLT), Paul says, “…Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.”
Paul goes on to say that we shouldn’t condemn other believers.
“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”
~ Romans 14: 12-13 (NLT)
Another important part of convictions is sometimes doing or avoiding certain things to help other believers. Let’s say you invite Bob (in the example above) over to your house to hang out one evening. Instead of playing Hearts, you could opt for Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit. You are 100% free to play Hearts any time, but choosing another game that night out of respect for Bob would help him stay true to his convictions.
Ultimately, here’s what Paul has to say about convictions:
“…Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”
~ Romans 14:22b-23
What are your thoughts on convictions?
What convictions do you personally live by?
Thanks so much for reading,