Convictions. Without them, you will be swept up like a leaf in a current as it picks up and carries anything that is not firmly rooted or attached to something. This old adage is true, “Stand for something or you will fall for everything.”... Stand or fall.
Conviction - A strong persuasion or belief, the state of being, the state of being convinced of an error or of the admission of a truth. A state of being free from doubt. A belief strongly held.
Convictions set you apart from the crowd, the norm, and the status quo.
Rick Warren says that a conviction is “a deeply held belief that helps guide your life. It’s more than an opinion. Opinions you argue about. Convictions you die for.”
People who have deep convictions make a deep impact…good or bad. Think of people who had strong convictions: Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Catherine the Great, Nelson Mandela, Hitler, Osama Bin Laden…. It all depends on what is the driving force behind the convictions. Love versus hate. Freedom versus control. Selflessness versus selfishness… We need to ask ourselves, “Are my convictions deep enough that they are making some sort of impact?”
Whether the driving force is good or bad, there is one thing that those who live by their convictions have in common. Criticism follows their actions. Criticism follows conviction because it makes people uncomfortable. Warren encourages us to “live by your conviction, not the criticism you receive.” Don’t allow the criticism to cause you to waiver in your conviction…. Stand.
Jesus said in John 15:21, “People will do to you exactly what they did to me. They will do it because you belong to me and they don’t know the One who sent me.” In other words, you will be criticized for your convictions. His whole life, every action, and every word Jesus spoke came from the framework of his conviction. Jesus was criticized for the people to whom he spoke, for the people with whom he chose to join for dinner, for speaking what he believed, for challenging the status quo, for doing things differently… “People will do to you what they did to me.”
Timothy says it this way, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Timothy had a strong conviction of what he believed to be true. Did he suffer because of it? Yes. Did the suffering cause him to doubt his beliefs or his decisions if he was doing the right thing? No. I like the way the Message translation words this same verse, “This is the Message I’ve been set apart to proclaim as preacher, emissary, and teacher. It’s also the cause of all this trouble I’m in. But I have not regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground – the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.”
Living by one’s convictions can be a thrill. A thrill in the moment you step out because of what you believe to be true and then you are momentarily suspended, waiting in anticipation for your convictions to catch you, uphold you, and protect you. Because it is more than an opinion, and is something in which you believe to its very core, you are willing to take greater risks where your convictions are concerned. You are willing to step out of the boat and try to walk on water. You are willing to go when everyone else says to stay. You are willing to speak up when everyone else is silent. You are willing to not only step out of your comfort zone but also actually live outside of your comfort zone. You are willing to stand on a delicate edge. You are willing to not only walk into a storm but also actually lean into it with each step with a fixed determination in your heart.
Convictions are like a zip-line. My daughter recently did a very challenging zip-line course at a ski resort that turns into an adventure course during the summer and early fall. She has an aversion to any “extreme” type of sport, roller coasters, or any thing where she might feel physically out of control. (I wonder from which parent she got that?) At first she stated she would never do a zip-line. When invited by a group from church to go last month, she decided she needed to do it strictly because she was afraid of it. She wanted to face the fear, overcome it, and prove that she could do it when pushed up against the wall. A few days after she did it, she made an observation about it. “You know, I don’t know why it feels so scary. The entire time you are secured with all sorts of ropes and latches. There is never a time when you are NOT connected. You may be un-connecting and reconnecting in between points and way up high off of the ground, but there is always one latch in place that keeps you connected to the source of support. The danger of falling is all in your mind.”
After she told me this, I stood there processing and thought, “Well that was a deep truth.”
Your convictions are your source of support. Fear of rejection and ridicule can keep you from standing but those convictions actually give you the strength you need. They are the framework that holds your life together or, adversely, without convictions, your life sprawls out everywhere without any real definition.
“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20
Why should standing cause us to fear when “by his mighty power at work within us is able to do more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream”? When we are walking with God, seeking him, following him, communing with him, and loving him with all our heart, our convictions begin to merge with His convictions, His heart and His desires. When we dare to stand and walk in those convictions, the convictions He has placed inside of you, His mighty power will work within you.
Don’t let the fear of criticism keep you from standing in your convictions. Criticism will come, but God is greater than any criticism that may get thrown at you. Keep your eyes straight ahead, not looking to the left or the right wondering what other people are saying about your convictions. Stand your ground…. and after you have done everything…. stand.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13