“So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God's presence as a mature person in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28 NCV)
The third measure of spiritual growth is conviction. Dictionaries usually define conviction as a fixed or strong belief. Conviction is really much more than that. Your convictions include your values, commitments, and motivations. I like the definition I once heard Howard Hendricks give: “A belief is something you will argue about. A conviction is something you will die for!” Our convictions determine our conduct. They motivate us to act in certain ways.
When you first become a Christian, you often do things simply because other Christians around you suggest them or model them. You may pray, read the Bible, and attend services because you see the examples of others. This is fine for a new Christian. Little children learn the same way. However, as you grow, you must eventually develop your own reasons for doing what you do. Those reasons become convictions. Biblical convictions are essential for spiritual growth and maturity.
A person without conviction is at the mercy of circumstances. If you don’t determine what’s important and how you’ll live, other people will determine it for you. A person without conviction is a weak, jellyfish type of individual who mindlessly follows the crowd. I believe Paul was talking about conviction when he said in Romans 12:2, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within ...” (Phillips)
The church must teach biblical convictions to counter the secular values that believers are constantly exposed to. As the old cliché goes, If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. What is ironic today is that people often have strong conviction about weak issues (football, fashions, etc.) while having weak convictions about major issues (what is right and what is wrong).
Knowing what to do (knowledge), why to do it (perspective), and how to do it (skill) is all worthless if you don’t have the conviction to motivate you to actually do it!
Jesus’ life was dominated by his conviction that he was sent to do the Father’s will. This produces a deep awareness of his life’s purpose that kept him from being distracted by the agenda of others. Study all the times Jesus used the phrase “I must ...” to gain insight into the convictions that he held. When people develop Christ-like convictions, they too develop a sense of purpose in life.
Conviction also has an attractive quality to it. This explains the popularity of many cults. Their beliefs are erroneous and often illogical, but they believe them with such intense conviction. In contrast, churches without clear, strong convictions will never attract the level of commitment that Christ deserves. We must teach and preach with conviction.
Talk About It
What are the things about which you speak with conviction?
How would your effectiveness in ministry and evangelism change if you spoke with the most conviction about these things?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.