Crabtree Acres

by Carolyn Bost Crabtree

Living with convictions in one’s life is not the easiest thing a person can do. Sometimes our convictions may rise up against the views of family members, friends, employers, and the world in general; it may require the sacrifice of something or someone in our lives that we hold very dear to us. I have attended many funerals during my years and the lives of those people who seem to be the most admired are those who have lived, not for themselves and material gain, but those who have lived to obey what they know in their hearts is right. Even those people who have the admiration of the world are usually praised for their character and their strength of conviction.

I have been studying the life of a woman who was one of those people who sacrificed for her convictions and for her faith in God. She became a famous writer of books about faith during the 1800s and as a result of her own convictions, her books are timeless and still can give us courage to live for our faith in God, no matter what the cost to us as individuals. The books touch on the faith that men and women need in order to live lives of suffering that comes to them when a child dies, or when faith conflicts with the preferences of others and requires us to lose our relationships with others for God’s sake. Although I may not agree with everything that this woman believed, I admire the fact that she lived her life with conviction and was willing to sacrifice for those convictions.

What is the difference between a “conviction” and a “preference”? A conviction is something that we believe so strongly that we are willing to die before we change our beliefs. These should come from God, but we all realize that people have strong convictions that have nothing to do with the true, living God. Extremists who believe that all Christians are infidels and should be killed have strong convictions and are willing to blow themselves and others up for these beliefs. These beliefs have nothing to do with the true, living God of the Bible. I sometimes feel that we as Christians are so weak in our own convictions that they are not true convictions at all, but are preferences instead. Preferences are beliefs we have that are strong, but can be changed under certain conditions. For example, we may prefer that our children attend a Christian school, but the cost may keep us from enrolling them in a Christ-centered school; we end up sending them to the government schools for convenience sake. Too much sacrifice may cause us to deny our conviction and therefore the conviction becomes a preference instead. True conviction for Christ-centered schools for our children would force us to willingly make any sacrifice necessary for their Godly education. Once we give in on what we claim as a conviction and change our actions toward that conviction, it ceases to be a conviction and becomes a preference. Conviction and preference cannot co-exist; it is impossible.

To truly serve God in our lives we must live our convictions to the point of death to self. The rich young ruler is a perfect example of this. He had great wealth and wanted to serve God; he may have even believed that Christ was the Messiah. Yet, he preferred his wealth over his own conviction that Christ was God. When he chose wealth over following Christ, any conviction of faith he may have had disappeared and became a preference instead. The Bible says he went away sorrowfully. Christ requires us to follow Him at all cost –in our hearts we must give up family, wealth, and even our own lives to be a true follower of Christ. We may not literally have to give these things to others, but we must be willing to give up whatever Christ says is more important to us than He is. He requires it all; nothing less will do. Once we make the decision to follow Him at all cost, joy and peace impossible to describe come into our lives. Instead of going away sorrowfully we live our lives in the abundance that Christ wants to give us.