If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)
Sometimes God does something very personal in our heart and asks us to stop or start doing something that is not directly addressed in Scripture. Instead, it is a decision He has asked us to make in our heart. If we don’t live the decision out, therefore, for us it would be sin, but to others it would not be.
Some examples include:
You decide not to shop at a particular store any longer.
Perhaps a particular store sells a product or displays signs that you don’t want your kids to see or you find particularly repulsive. Perhaps when you are in a store you have thoughts you ought not have. You know it and God knows it. You now have a personalized conviction not to shop there any longer.
You decide not to drink alcohol any longer.
Perhaps your spouse has made it through a battle with alcoholism. You are okay to drink but don’t want to do anything to tempt your spouse to go back. So you decide to stop. Or perhaps you are the one that is struggling with drinking excessively. You know it and God knows it. You now have a personalized conviction not to drink alcohol.
You decide not to interact with a particular person any more.
You love your spouse. No question. But you are thinking about someone else too much. Or perhaps you are getting vibes that someone else is inappropriately pursuing you. Danger is lurking. You know it and God knows it. You now have a personalized conviction not to communicate with that person any longer.
You decide not to eat certain foods.
Your eating is out of control. God has put on your heart to clean up your act and take better care of yourself. You begin to walk out a new lifestyle. But your family doesn’t have the same convictions. And your neighborhood gatherings are serving up food you and God have decided are off the menu for you. Others can eat what they wish, but you can’t. You now have a personalized conviction about how God wants you to eat.
I have blogged about eating convictions before and I believe the principle applies to other areas of personal conviction as well.
If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 1 Corinthians 10:27
This refers to a Jew going to a Gentile (non-Jewish) home and being served meat that had been sold in market, but the blood had been poured out to an idol. That meat would not be an allowed menu item for a Jew, but when in a Gentile home, Scripture indicates that the relationship with the host would become more important than rules about eating. A modern day application would be that when we are served food at someone else’s house, we eat what we are served with clear conscience.
And thus we get to the broader application of this post…
Let’s not advertise our personalized convictions quite so much.
I watch people announce their personal shopping, eating, reading and movie-going convictions indiscriminately to groups of people. It’s as if I can see the relational damage occur before my very eyes like cracks moving quickly through plate glass. People may be thinking…
- Oops, can’t invite her over to lunch because she won’t eat my famous chicken salad.
- Oops, can’t show her my new dress that I just bought at said store, because she won’t approve of my shopping there. Oops, I have to return her birthday present that I just bought for her at said store. Or the worst one yet…I am not going to be her friend anymore because there is nothing wrong with that store!
You get the idea.
What is more important than our personalized convictions is our relationships with people and making sure they feel safe to be themselves in our presence.
Summer is here. It’s time to hang out by the pool and converse more frequently with people different than ourselves. Let’s enjoy people. Let’s keep the avenues open to have them join us at our dinner table in our home or to be invited to theirs. Let’s keep the avenues open for relationships to develop so that eventually, all who know us can be introduced to the character of Jesus in our lives and the Person of Jesus through our words.
The rest is God’s business.
Picture Explanation: Sixth grade ended for our son. This post contains comparisons from the kindergarten bus stop with a neighbor buddy to this week’s end of year. Neighborhood kids literally grow up alongside each other. Wow.
Summer has begun. Many bloggers take a break but I have decided not to do so. I will simply be shortening my posts and simplifying my thoughts. I hope you too will be challenged in bite-sized pieces this summer between our vacations and trips to the pool. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer season.
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