11 February 2007

Living With Strong Convictions

A general election can be a fascinating observation of human nature. In the weeks leading up to an election, weekly opinion polls attempt to reflect which way voters are swinging.

There will usually be a number of hardcore voters who stand firmly on each opposing side, but the swing of balance is usually focused on those who haven't quite made up their mind. As the debate heats up, these are the voters that each contender aims to influence and persuade to vote for their cause. They are an unknown, uncertain entity, who often don't know where they stand because they don't have any firm convictions.

The truth is that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. There are many people who don't know what they really believe in life. They have no firm convictions or solid persuasions so they aren't committed to anything in particular. Their instability and double-mindedness tosses them backwards and forwards.

Your convictions are the beliefs and persuasions that ground you and establish the pattern of your life. One can only admire those who make a stand for what they believe in, or live for a specific cause. Ten years ago in April 1994, South Africa held its first democratic, multi-racial elections and Nelson Mandela was elected president of his country by a vast majority. Yet more than three decades before, he had made a stand and went to jail for 27 years for the cause he believed in ? the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

I know, I believe, I'm committed, I'm persuaded

On any given Sunday, millions of Christian believers attend church services all over the world. How many would be prepared to be arrested and jailed for their faith?

The Apostle Paul was one who was prepared to suffer persecution for the sake of the Gospel. He was able to state with absolute conviction:

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." [2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV]

It is Paul's fervour and persuasion that have inspired others over the centuries to commit to the Cause of Christ. He knew, he believed, he was persuaded and he was committed. There are many who don't know their own convictions and are unsure what they believe. The result is that they can be easily persuaded one way or the other. They aren't committed to anything, when instead they could be influential and persuasive.

Your convictions cannot be separated from the pattern of your life. Where and how you stand will set the course of your life. Paul went on to exhort and encourage Timothy: "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." [2 Timothy 1:13 NKJV]

Whatever your convictions are, they set a pattern of your life. Strong convictions can build a strong life, but if your convictions are weak and wavering, your life will be the same. Those who stand for nothing are building a pattern of inconsistency, and may end up going from crisis to crisis. Yet those who stand firm on the promises of God can begin to see a pattern of blessing emerging in their lives.

If you want to build a pattern in your life that will produce God's blessing, you will need to make a stand. The choices you make determine your convictions, and when it comes to the cross of Jesus Christ, you cannot look on ? you have to make a choice as to where you stand.

No matter what happens in life, you need to have convictions about your faith, your marriage and even the church you belong to. Let us become people of strong conviction, standing firm when tough times come and knowing where we stand.

By Brian Houston

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