by Neil Anderson
WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR CONVICTION?
Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
I grew up with a good, moral background, and I even went to church, but I wasn't a Christian. In those days I really enjoyed beer, especially on a hot day after mowing the lawn. When I received Christ as a young man, I joined a church which preached total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. I wasn't a drunk, so I decided to scratch that rule and keep my beer.
My beer-drinking wasn't excessive, but two years later the Lord convicted me about it. With the conviction came the power to obey. So I gave it up. I'm so glad that no one laid a guilt trip on me or made an issue over my drinking an occasional beer.
Sometimes we are tempted to play the role of the Holy Spirit or the conscience in someone else's life on issues where the Scriptures are not crystal clear: "Christians don't drink or smoke"; "You should spend at least 30 minutes a day in prayer and Bible study"; "Buying lottery tickets is not good stewardship." I'm convinced that the Holy Spirit knows exactly when to bring conviction on issues of conscience. It's part of the process of sanctification which He superintends. When we attempt to play His role, we often do little more than convey criticism and rejection. Our job is to accept people and let the Holy Spirit bring conviction in His time.
God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, not condemnation. Paul wrote, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19). There is a time and place to confront Christians about immoral behavior. But when we do so, it is only because we care about their relationship with God and desire to protect others.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to confront others in love when I must and to accept others in love as You have accepted me.
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