The Downside of Convictions… Hello Hump Day readers! Only a few days until another weekend comes around and the month of September will almost be in the past! How quickly time goes and when that time is gone, how much of what we wanted to do, change, repair or see flew right out the window?
Convictions are like that. We have them for a day or two or sometimes we have them so cemented in our minds and hearts they are like a steel post that will not bend. This devotion is about convictions, the upside and the downside. Before you read on, take a quick check-list of your convictions—how important are they—do you follow them or?
Webster’s dictionary describes ‘conviction’ in 4 ways:
1—the act or process of finding a person guilty of a crime especially in a court of law
2—a strong persuasion or belief
3—the state of being convinced
4—the act of convincing a person of error or of compelling the admission of a truth
Now, read this interesting story from a British statesman/financier Cecil Rhodes whose fortune endowed the Rhodes Scholarships. He was a man of conviction in many ways but he always understood the “give-and-take” of one’s convictions and firmly believed they were second to caring for others. One night his other statemen gathered for good food and conversation and his home. They were already upset that one younger man was late—after all, they are statemen and protocol is paramount! Finally, the young man arrived after many train delays. His clothes were wrinkled and stained and Rhodes could see his distress along with the arched eyebrows of his other guests. One man was about to speak out at the lad when Rhodes broke in saying “my young lad here will sit next to me at the table, welcome him kindly, and give me a few minutes and I’ll join you all.” Rhodes quickly went to his dressing room and put on an old shabby suit and joined his guests. Many looked him over wondering why he would put on this tattered suit! But they quickly learned why Rhodes changed his clothes—he wanted this young lad to be welcomed and not feel uncomfortable, he cared for him first. The evening was wonderful and not one of the statemen said a word!
In Matthew 22:37-40 [NLT], Jesus said: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” So, the question now is how important are your convictions based on these words from Jesus?
I think most of us would argue that convictions are a good thing—as long as they don’t hurt others. Rhodes had it right: it is crucial to prioritize our convictions and focus on what’s really important. Sadly, we bring our convictions into church, family, work, etc. We make a stake on them as if they are the most important thing in the world.
As a 50-year church-musician, convictions on music have divided families and congregations, as well as the color of hymnals, cushions, carpet, the color of the pastor’s vehicle! And get this: you better make sure the communion cloth is PERFECT. That’s what happened to me. The Altar Guild needed help so I joined. I guess when I put the linen on the communion elements, the point was not correct. Not only did I hear about it, the poor lady said she couldn’t even worship that day because of it—really?! Folks, this stuff is the downside of when our convictions are so steadfast, we cannot bend. Instead, we break not only ourselves but others as well. Jesus’ words from Matthew have just flown right out the window!
But there is a good truth in having convictions as long as we don’t let them override our biblical duties to love others and seek unity. We need to keep our convictions prioritized and perhaps memorize Jesus’ words from Matthew 22? Jesus wants us to remember what’s most important in life—loving God and loving people. Let’s ask God to help us prioritize our convictions and be humble enough to not let them destroy us and relationships. Now that’s an AMEN for sure!