You come to a fork in the road, a decision that needs to be made. Do you turn left or right? Do you stay where you are and not choose a side? If you have personal convictions on the matter, you know what you have to do. A person with personal convictions is convinced that something is true and stands on principle, regardless of the situation and regardless of the consequences. Personal convictions reveal a lot about who a person is.
Having personal convictions is important to keep us from being swayed by the opinions of others or automatically obeying them. Someone with no personal convictions will be wishy-washy, indecisive, and easily led astray. When the crowd says, “Let’s all disobey God,” it takes someone with personal convictions to stand up and say, “No.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had personal convictions against worshiping false gods, and they held their ground against the Babylonian tide, standing firm even in the face of the king’s wrath (Daniel 3).
Everyone has opinions and preferences, but a person with conviction does not form his ideas based on selfish desires or for selfish gain. A person with personal convictions has thought through the issues and lives with purpose. Such people are sure of what they believe, and they are convinced of the things that matter most. The apostle Paul looked forward to a time when believers will reach spiritual maturity: “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). Part of maturity is having enough personal conviction to recognize and withstand the false teachings of the day.
Personal convictions should be formed using the Bible as the touchstone. What the Bible promotes, we should have a personal conviction in favor of. What the Bible forbids, we should have a personal conviction against. In this way, the Word of God informs our conscience and is a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Personal convictions should never be based solely on what we “feel” about a matter: “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe” (Proverbs 28:26).
Of course, the Bible does not deal directly with every situation. Forming personal convictions on issues not specified in Scripture requires us to search out the guiding principles in the Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17; James 1:5). The Bible does not mention abortion, per se, but it does speak clearly about matters such as murder and the protection of the innocent. When we study and submit to the Word of God, we learn what God says is right or wrong (Hebrews 5:14). As we mature in wisdom and judgment, our personal convictions will align with those things that are excellent to God (Philippians 1:9–11; Romans 12:1–2).
Since we’re dealing with personal convictions, there are some issues on which different believers may have different convictions. Not all issues are black and white, and not all issues can be traced back to a biblical guideline. In such cases, we must let the law of love rule. Paul tells us to not quarrel “over disputable matters” (Romans 14:1) such as the eating of certain foods or holding one day more sacred than other days. We should have personal convictions: “Each . . . should be fully convinced in their own mind” (verse 5), but should also leave room for the convictions of others: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. . . . Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God” (verses 4 and 6).
Personal convictions are important because they help us stand firm when this world is uncertain and changing. We need more men and women with a “moral center” in the midst of the moral chaos surrounding us. Personal convictions keep us on point and remind us of what matters most. They help us to endure temptation without compromise. They refine and prove our faith.