"What Do You Want??" - Why Convictions Are Important
Do you ever feel like Allie in the Notebook?
OK, maybe not the part where two really attractive men are fighting over you, but the part where Allie doesn’t know what she believes to be the best decision. The scene where Noah keeps asking her, “What do you want? What do you want? What do YOU want?” And she responds with, “It’s not that simple.”
As an audience, we know that Allie does know what she wants (or rather, who she wants), but at the same time, we resonate with her confusion. We’ve all felt like we couldn’t pick a side. We’ve all felt stuck. We’ve all been confused. Although I have never had to make a heartbreaking decision between two men, I think in smaller, less dramatic ways, I feel like I can say with certainty that I do not know what I always want. What I always believe about a situation. What I always think about an issue. At times, I’m not sure what my convictions are about a certain topic, or why I should even have them.
What are convictions anyways? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, convictions are a “strong persuasion or belief.” Don’t get me wrong, I have strong beliefs and persuasions in some areas of my life, especially when it comes to my faith. That is one stance I feel like I can confidently say I know what I believe and why I believe it. I believe that having faith in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection, is the only way to be reconciled with a Holy God. I believe that Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life. However, when it comes to having convictions about other issues, whether in spiritual, political, or financial spheres, I can clearly see how I am like Allie. Stuck. Not able to pick a side. So why is it important to have convictions? Specifically, as Christians, why does it matter?
I think it’s important because of three C’s: commitment, construction, and courage.
Commitment to Scripture
As Christians, if we aren’t forming our thoughts and ideas based off Scripture then we are forming them by the world. I love in 2 Timothy 1:13-14 where Paul says, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” The “good deposit” here is the Word of God. Paul speaks about guarding the Scripture that has been entrusted to us. In 1 Timothy 6:20 he says again, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.” As Christians, we should be committed to knowing the Word, what it says, what it teaches, and then let that shape our convictions. If not, our knowledge is simply irreverent babble.
Construction of Beliefs
From what the Scriptures teach, we will see truth. From that truth, we are able to construct our own personal convictions and beliefs from the Scripture. There is a difference between a biblical truth and a personal conviction. For example, a biblical truth is that disciplining your children is a good thing. The Father disciplines his children to make us depend on Him more, to deepen our faith. Likewise, as parents of children know, without discipline there would be chaos. In Ephesians 6:1-4 it says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. Fathers do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” It doesn’t take long to figure out, though, that parents and families have very different personal convictions on the best way to discipline their children, and there is not necessarily one right or wrong practice.
Lastly, it takes courage to build convictions and to act on them. It is one thing to state your personal conviction on a certain issue; it is even more convincing when you are a man or woman of your word and follow through with what you say you believe. Following through with convictions takes courage, especially when it would be easier to go with the majority. It takes courage to say no when it would be easier to say yes. It takes courage to risk losing the approval of people because of what you believe.
I want to be a woman who has convictions. I want to be able to say to someone “I do know what I want, and I do know what I believe.” However, because I’m like Allie, I know that I am easily swayed and moved by the wind of my own deceitful thoughts and influences of the world. That is why I need so much help from my Savior. Christ is the only person who could perfectly carry out the commitment to His Heavenly Father’s will, construct His beliefs from the Word, and the courage to finish His Father’s will, as He drew his last breath on the cross. It is through His Spirit alone that I can be a woman who mirrors Him in my convictions.