To you, does the word "convictions" have a meaning? Which of these serve as the foundation of your meaning? (1) "Convictions are beliefs you accept as truth." (2) "Convictions are your daily behavior." (3) "Convictions are beliefs you accept as truth that express themselves in daily life."

Each Christian must be a person of "conviction." To say to a Christian, "You have no convictions," is to insult him or her. Jesus was a person of conviction. So were Paul, Timothy, Titus, Mary, Martha, and Mark's mother. Anyone with any understanding of Christian existence knows men and women who belong to Christ must be people of conviction. The essential question: what does it mean to be a person of conviction?

Some conclude having convictions is a matter of holding correct Christian beliefs. To them significant faith questions often begin by asking, "Where do you stand on ...?" "Is he liberal?" "Is she legalistic?" "Does he believe the Bible is verbally inspired?" "Does she believe the Holy Spirit is active today?" "What is his understanding of 'the faith'?" "What is her understanding of 'the church'?" "To find out, ask, 'What is your position on ...?' Then listen. If he uses this word, he is .... If she uses this phrase, she is .... But if he or she uses that word or phrase, he or she is .... You can tell where a person 'stands' by certain words and phrases he or she uses."

This approach to godliness defines conviction solely in terms of a specific set of beliefs.

Some conclude that having convictions is basically a matter of personal behavior. "I am a person of conviction! I am honest, pay my bills, take care of my family, am a good neighbor, am a responsible member of the community, and am loyal to my country. Religious involvement is unnecessary to holding convictions. I am not involved with the church, but I am a person of conviction. Church-wise, I do little. However, I live my convictions. That makes me a person of conviction."

This approach to godliness defines conviction solely in terms of personal behavior.

Some understand being a person holding Christian convictions involves both beliefs and behavior. Jesus Christ is truth and defines truth (John 14:6). Understanding truth begins by understanding Jesus. Yet, it is not enough to know truth. Truth expresses itself in behavior. Jesus perfectly expressed God's truth in human behavior. Jesus is the ultimate example of holding truth and expressing convictions.

To reduce convictions to a matter of holding truths leads us to act as judges. To reduce convictions to a matter of personal behavior leads us to self-justification. To understand Christian convictions are based on truths that change our daily behavior leads to humble service to God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 1 July 2001

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