July 31 - Convictions
Most Christians accept the authority of God’s Word as revealed in the Scriptures but there could be wide differences on how to interpret the Word and on how to live out the biblical teachings. Over the centuries, believers have fought over the mode of baptism, the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, the practice of prayer and worship styles. This is what Paul refers to in the Book of Romans, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”
Opinions and convictions divide the church of God. As we are holding on to one set of convictions, we think we are strong and see others as weak since they do not hold the same convictions as we do. As a result, we do not welcome one another and different sects, groups or denominations have come into being, just to uphold their own convictions. Many of our convictions are not related to the absolute truth revealed in the Word, they are merely traditions or opinions of men and sometimes there is no right or wrong but are mere preferences.
We do not only reject those who are different from us, we quarrel with them to prove that we are right and they are wrong. We also despise them for being weak or wrong. We also pass judgment on them, treating them as guilty and sinning against God. This is in direct contradiction to the heart of God who has already welcomed those that are different from us. Criticizing them is just like judging the servants of another master. We are not their masters but they are accountable to their Master, God Himself. By judging them, we have infringed upon God’s sovereignty and sphere; we do not have the position or power to do that.
Each one of us is to be accountable to God in the way that we live out our faith. We live for God only and do not live for others. No human opinion may change that fact. If we are not living for God, then we would be mindful of the criticisms of others. When we do that, we may cause our brothers to stumble and sin. Paul goes on and says, “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The Kingdom of God is not about who is right or who is wrong in our convictions but about God’s righteousness, peace and joy in Holy Spirit. This is Christian unity when we hold on to our own convictions with faith while welcoming others with a different conviction than ours. When we are at peace with one another, the joy of the Holy Spirit would be among us.
How do you look at those with different convictions than yourself? Do you welcome them, accept them and live in peace with them? Christian unity is more important than our own convictions. There is no need to prove that you are right.
Ps 80:8-19 2 Chron 29:1-36 Rom 14:1-23 Prov 20:12