A little while ago, I did a series called “Words to Know,” where I talked about some words that Christians are constantly dropping and people aren’t really understanding, like “amen,” “sin,” and being “saved.” Today’s post might be thought of as a continuation of sorts. Today, I’m thinking about conviction.
According to the Merriam-Webster Free Dictionary (as provided by Google, which apparently gives you the definition of some words right when you search for them), “convicting” is the present participle of the verb “convict,” which means to “declare (someone) to be guilty of a criminal offense by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law.”
I think that typically when Christians are “convicted,” they realize that they were in the wrong. I was convicted of letting fear rule my life, for instance, for about a year. I realized that this was something that was wrong in the eyes of the Judge who had made me to live trusting in Him rather than letting anxiety and unreasonable doubts take control.
Thankfully, because of Christ, I really feel that conviction for Christians is a good thing. Christ took care of the part where we’re sent to the equivalent of jail, so we don’t have to face that. Jail here on earth is terrifying to me, and even for the most confident person, God’s “jail,” if you will, is especially terrifying when considering the the judge here is a perfectly righteous and just God.
Since we can put our faith in Christ and His forgiveness of our sins, being convicted of something just tells us what we’re doing wrong. It doesn’t mean that it’s okay that we did it in the first place, but it does mean that we’re able to correct it.
As Paul writes to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (emphasis added), “ Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern,what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”
I love that list of things that the godly sorrow produced in the Corinthian church. They were convicted, yes, but it set them off to do good through God’s will with such passion!
Because grad school is making me a huge nerd, I’ll give an example using SAS syntax. SAS is a program that allows you to run different statistics, and get all kinds of graphs, charts, and data. The way that I am currently learning to use it is through syntax. Instead of clicking a few buttons to get, you enter a bunch of nonsense-seeming terms and punctuation to get what you want. For instance, in order to export data from SAS to Excel, you might enter:
I’m using this example because it took me a good half an hour to figure out how to do it and I don’t want to have to do that again. So here it is handily on my blog!
Now, if I were to instead enter
The whole thing would be entirely rejected. It’s imperfect. It might look exactly the same to you and be regarded as just fine, but the judge (in this case, SAS), sees an error, because there is one. Is it forgivable when I change the first “l” in “outfile” to an “i”? Sure! And half an hour after I started trying, I’ve got one beautiful Excel sheet full of data. But if SAS hadn’t yelled at me in all kinds of colors first and refused to give me the product I was looking for, I wouldn’t have been convicted- I wouldn’t have realized that something was wrong and looked to fix it.
This whole thing arose because I was very convicted by a passage from a book by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. It comes from his book “The Weight of Glory,” and reads as follows:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with on another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit- immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
You might have to read it a few times. I did. It really puts things in perspective. It’s convicting, if you will; it reminded me of how much more seriously I need to take my relationships and this teeny bit of time that I have on this earth in general. Thank You, Lord, for conviction, and may we not only hear it, but respond.
p.s. Don’t forget to check out the comments section- it’s that little dot with a number in it at the top of the post (or you can click on the word “comments” in this sentence. Fellow blogger and sister in Christ Sydney made an excellent point about other definitions of conviction!