Wrestling with Convictions

Our decisions matter!  It is important that we work hard to thoughtfully reflect on biblical truth and carefully discern what practices are wise.  As Romans 14:5 says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”  That is, we should make our decisions from personal convictions that we have diligently worked for.  But how do we do that?  How do we know what’s right?

Whether we realize it or not, life is full of many, many small but critical decisions.  Each decision rests within the larger scope of our worldview that subconsciously is interpreting: what is right and wrong?  What is the standard of right and wrong?  What say does God have?  How is that relevant to me?  Will I yield to God or justify my desires?  Does this surprise you?  I assure you, if you take the time to analyze the small things you have done so far even today, you may see how these questions have shaped – or not shaped – your actions.

The reality is that whether we will acknowledge and obey Jesus as Lord is a constant decision that we make – perhaps actively, determining to obey His will, or perhaps passively, opting for your preference without regard to what God has to say.  These may fall under areas of explicit moral instruction in the Bible, such as is listed in Ephesians 4:25-32: don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t speak corruptly, don’t have ill intent toward others…

Other decisions have less clear instruction, or perhaps none at all.  What music should I listen to?  How should I dress?  Who should I vote for?  Should I participate in Halloween?  Should I join a party with my coworkers?  What Bible translation should I use?  Should my kids go to public school, Christian school, or be homeschooled?

First, discernment is needed to determine whether the decision involves explicit moral instruction.  What biblical commands influence the decision?  What biblical wisdom principles might shape the decision?

Second, we need to examine our motivation.  Can we honor the Lord with our decision (Romans 14:5-6)?  Or are we chasing and justifying personal desires?  Are we instead using our freedom as an excuse for participating in wrong, ignoring our conscience (1 Peter 2:16)?

Third, am I treading dangerously close to sin?  First Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23 both iterate that “all things are lawful.”  However, they give principles for guarding against carelessly exercising freedom in our decisions.  What if the decision is not helpful to me or to others?  What if it does not build up faith in myself or others?  What if my decision is involving me in something addicting that will control my life, that could dominate me?

Another vital question: does this build up my fellow believer?  The rest of Romans 14 emphasizes this question.  The alternative to building up is to cause to stumble (Romans 14:21) and to destroy (Romans 14:15, 20).

Our lives are lived in the daily moments, which consist of decisions made both from explicitly moral teaching in the Bible, and personal convictions that we gain from careful thought and study as we abide in a satisfying relationship with the Lord.  In what areas do you need to examine and discern your decisions?

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