Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dealing With Conviction

Let's face it: we have all had times when we got angry at someone for being judgmental.  I mean, we are only human, right?  Seriously, I can't believe she would let her kids wear that, or I can't believe he would watch that TV show.  It seems, though, that we sometimes have difficulty finding a healthy line between facing our own convictions, and walking away from inappropriate  judgments. At least I can tell you that I have this problem .  Maybe you don't *cough--denial*......

So how should we respond when we feel conviction in our lives?  Should we run from it?  Justify it?  Should we sever all ties with the ones who bring the conviction to us?  Should we find people who share our values to commiserate with? Should we find a new church with a pastor that preaches what makes us feel good?

Well, when you put it that way........

Let me just suggest to you that conviction is something that should be embraced. 
After all, why do you do what you do? What keeps you from doing what you are not supposed to do?  Is it your friends? Your church?  Your image?  In reality, it should be none of these.  Our desire and drive to live a life of holiness should come purely out of our love for Christ!  Stop and think about this for a second.  You are a sinner.  You deserve a death worse than Christ's sufferings on the cross.  Yet, out of love for you and me, Jesus took that punishment on Himself.  You don't have to suffer that way.  All that is required is that you believe.  Conviction is evidence of relationship.  It is proof that God is working in our lives to transform us to the image of Christ.  I say praise God for it.  When you are sitting under good preaching and you feel like the pastor has been spying on your life, and you want to crawl under the pew and hide.....GOOD!

I am not a proponent of works-based faith.  The Bible says that it is by the grace of God alone that we are saved.  BUT, I will say that I believe that when we are truly head-over-heels in love with and devoted to the one who saved us, our lives will look different from the world.   The indwelling of the Holy Spirit accomplishes some very supernatural traits in us.  At least, that is how it should be.  We know that the Holy Spirit is present with us with every breath that we breathe.  Maybe it would be beneficial to ask ourselves: If I could see the Holy Spirit sitting next to me, would I type that status update of Facebook? Would I be watching this show on TV?  Would I use the word I just used?

When someone challenges us, our tendency is to get angry and call them judgmental.  Our response instead, should be to ask ourselves: is my position Biblical?  It is a time to really dig into the Word of God and find truth.  Not digging in with the intent to justify ourselves, mind you.  Digging in with an open mind and a prayerful heart.  God, if this is what you want/ don't want from me show me.  I want to glorify you with my life.  I want integrity.  I want to be the same person in the privacy of my living room as I am at church on Sunday.  Show me what YOU have to say about this!  It may also be beneficial to seek out the person who has called you into judgment and work things out.  After all, we are called to love the brotherhood of believers.  If we are to look different from the world, then we must not be quarreling among ourselves.

The heart that is so full of gratitude is likely to share with others what God is doing in their lives.  The Bible says that "...Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."  Luke 6:45   When our hearts are so abundantly filled with Jesus, our mouths will frequently speak His name.  We will tell others what He has done and how our lives have changed as a result. Some will become angry with us. Some will praise God with us.  Some will call us judgmental and avoid us.  If we love the truth, though, a few detractors will not silence us.

The health of our walk with Christ can be gauged on how we handle conviction.  Will we choose to quench the Holy Spirit, or follow His leading?   Pride is hard for some of us (like me) to overcome.  But the truth is, if I really think about it, I should be falling on my face everyday before God.  I need to approach Him in humility and ask for wisdom.  Sometimes I am wrong.  Sometimes I am right.  It takes strength just to walk away from judgment without an argument.  But, the meek will inherit the earth.  Cool.

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