Friday, March 4, 2016

When A Conviction Has Social Ramifications

Inspirational Quote

Hey y'all! I hope you're doing well today! As I've been going through a particularly rich time of growing and learning in my life, I've also been realizing how important grace and understanding among believers is. I'd like to flesh this out in 5 ways we can handle situations in which our convictions have social ramifications. In this article I'm talking about issues of orthopraxy (right doing) not differences in orthodoxy (right believing).

1) Keep it to yourself. 

Matthew 6:1-4, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them... When you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you do as the hypocrites...your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

The incredible, yet sometimes frustrating-to-our-flesh thing about convictions, is that they are a deeply personal thing. The Holy Spirit moves and works in each of us differently and we have to understand that first and foremost. We don't know how the Lord is working in someone else, nor do we need to broadcast how God is moving in our own hearts.

2) Participate in your own way. 

Romans 14:22-23, "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith, for whatever is not from faith is sin."

This chapter is amazing in the way it encourages us to love one another in our various convictions. Verse 14b says, "But to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." The examples given are issues (vegetables, day of worship, wine or no) that were of particular popularity in the early church because they were matters of interpreting the Old Testament. The language Paul uses (weak and strong) does convey that one brother is more full in his understanding of Scripture, yet there is no suggestion of pushing the weaker to take the position of the stronger. On the contrary, 14b says that it is a sin to violate your conscience and that we should have a healthy respect for one another's convictions.

So, for me, I am convicted to shop ethically for my clothing now that I am aware of the ways it affects people globally. (Read my post Please Stop Buying Cheap Clothes if you haven't yet) In general, this means boycotting stores like Forever 21, GAP, Old Navy, etc. But, I have a tradition of going Black Friday shopping at the mall with good friends. We have so much fun getting up early and exploring the (oddly empty) mall! But if I were to buy like I used to, I would be violating my "new conscience". My sisters and my friends have little to no conviction to "shop ethically", so although I personally did not buy much from the mall, I took Romans 14:22 to heart and was happy in my own way before the Lord, not worrying about what others are or are not convicted about. This isn't a "better than thou" attitude (if I had that I wouldn't be go, lol) but a spirit of joy in the journey.

[If hanging out at the mall were a frequent activity for my friends group, I would probably try to suggest other activities so that I wasn't constantly tempted, but this is a once-a-year thing.]

3) Quietly excuse yourself. 

Romans 14:12, "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."

Sometimes, even when engaging in an activity would be a ton of fun for social reasons, our convictions are such that it would violate our conscience to participate, so excusing ourselves is best. There is a family in our church who has stricter movie-viewing standards than many of the other families. So, when a group of us is getting together to see a new Marvel movie or whatever, depending on the content, this family may just say, "Thanks for the invite, but we won't be seeing this without ClearPlay" and the rest of us respect that and try not to make it harder for them to say no. Sometimes their example will encourage all of us to change our plans and sometimes not. But the decorum with which they handle the situation is always a blessing.

4) Share your passion at a time when the issue is not at hand. 

Romans 14:19, "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun."

We are all learning and growing in different areas at different times, but one of the super awesome things about friends is that we get to share, learn, and grow together. We can share what the Lord has laid on our hearts, we can excitedly send them a link to a great documentary we just watched, and we can rant over coffee about how Walmart treats their employees. As long as we approach with an attitude of humility and "this is the way I see it, you don't have to agree" we should feel safe sharing our hearts and passions. The wrong time to launch into your "soda-is-awful-and-your-body-is-a-temple" spiel is walking out of the gas station with your bottled water while your friend carries a Coke. If you are newly convicted about something and would like your friend to know and understand your perspective, choose a time at which emotions are not on high-alert and you are able to have a calm discussion. In my case, choosing a neutral time to share my passion usually means turning the greeting "How are you?" into an exuberant explanation of how the methylation cycle works and how everyone needs to be taking Vitamin C everyday. :P

5) Don't burn your friends with the fire of your passion. 

James 3:4-5, "Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" Luke 6:45b, "For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

When we're excited about something, we want to talk about it! When we've learned an interesting health fact or business concept, we want to share it! That's totally natural and a very good thing (because when we're filled with Jesus, we can't help but share!), but we have to be careful that in our bubbling over we don't alienate our friends and family who don't share our excitement.

When I was starting Fresh Apparel Denim Company, I listened to business podcasts for 8 or 9 hours a day nearly all summer long. This was an excellent education, but as you can imagine the only thing going on in my heart and mind was all business all the time. So, that's what I talked about and- go figure- not all of my friends shared this passion! It was hard for me to see at the time, but I was pretty annoying and dogmatic with it all. It's so easy to get wrapped up in an area of study when we're first getting into it that we forget we need to ask how our friends are doing, talk about something besides the different interpretations of Revelation, and shut our mouths a paragraph and a half before we want to. Better to have them ask questions than to have friends walk away bored out of their minds. :p

Unity, love, and joy in the Lord are SO important, especially in modern America where there are so many things Christians passionately disagree and argue about. There is also a ridiculous amount of compromise -- and expectation that we will compromise-- that we need to be on guard to not allow ourselves to grow indifferent or stop seeking the Lord's face on issues. Our consciences should not be dismissed as legalistic or silly. The Lord places convictions in our heart for a reason-- let's honor ourselves and others as we live them out. :)



29 comments :

  1. Hi Olivia,
    Thank you so much for sharing this post! I will have to remember these tips! I love that you brought out the point that we are all growing and learning at a different pace -that is SO true. God may be working on my heart about one area and may be working on my friend's heart in a totally different way and in a completely different area of life. Only God knows why He chooses to work that way... probably to strengthen our faith and trust in Him when we don't see eye-to-eye on things.
    I love heart-to-heart sharing with friends and sharing convictions at appropriate times is key to good/strong relationships.
    Thank you again for this post!
    Rebekah
    www.moreradiance.com

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  2. This post is terrific and it's exactly what I needed today! Thank you!

    Also, I for one would love to hear about business concepts :)

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  3. Wow, you pretty much put my current thoughts into words! I have been trying to come up with a way of saying all this to some family and friends I know who can never seem to get along because our opinions often differ...I will have to send this to them!Thank you for yet another lovely post! =)
    Maddi

    www.humdrumhappinessblog@blogspot.com

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  4. Good word, Olivia. Thank you for sharing! The area of convictions is a messy subject in Christianity these days. Your approach is loving and I'm striving to live the same way. <3

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  5. Wow! Exactly what I've been wrestling with lately!! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Thanks for sharing! I really do think that a lot of people get far too caught up in orthodoxy and not so much with orthopraxy. Both are so important and thank you for this encouraging reminder to live graciously.

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  7. I had a question I wanted to ask you... So I got on your blog and to see that you posted something very similar to what I was thinking wa crazy! God works in mysterious ways. Though I'd still like to ask...and if anybody else reads this and would like to give there advice...I'd LOVE it. So recently my husband and I have felt convicted with modesty..not just modesty but being feminine. Since I personally have felt very convicted I decided to start dressing more modest and wearing skirts outside the home all the time. I feel like God calls us to be different as Christians..and in this day and age I want people to know I'm a woman living for the Lord. Anyways... We go to a church where I'm THEE only one that wears skirts and none of my friends or family share the same conviction...and it gets so hard at times. My husband and I have been talking and are considering finding a new church with similar convictions. Do you think that would be a right choice to find like minded believers or stay and be an example? We love our current church...they preach the truth and stand up for what's right. Idk we are kinda just stuck.
    Thank you for your time of reading this (:
    -Hannah

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    1. If you still agree with the doctrines and practices of your current church, I would highly encourage you to stay there. Secondary distinctives (skirts, homeschooling, etc) are nice to have in common with your church family, but are not worth leaving a church over. :)

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    2. Hi Hannah! My name is Hannah, too! I saw your post and just thought I'd weigh in. :) God wants all Christians to live in unity (1 Cor. 1:10, Psalm 133:1, 1 Peter 3:8, etc.). It can be awkward being the only one with a certain conviction, but it's helpful to remember the distinction between convictions and commands. Convictions differ from person to person as God works in our hearts individually, but commands are required for all people to obey. Since wearing only skirts is a conviction instead of a command, I would encourage you to stay in your current church as well. :) What I consider modest has changed so much over the past few years, so just because you're the only one dressing a certain way right now doesn't mean that you always will be! It sounds like your heart is in the right place - stay strong, sister! :)

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    3. Hi Hannah. I'm dealing with this same issue. My husband and I moved our family to a new church where almost none of the women wear skirts. We came from a very legalistic church where all the women at least claimed to only wear skirts. Part of the reason we left was because of the over-emphasis on the outward appearance an the neglect of many other things. Our new church is a wonderful place for my family but I feel like I stick out because of my clothing. It has,however helped me to see that dressing in feminine,modest skirts is truly what God has led me to do and isn't just about me fitting in with everyone else. So I guess I'm speaking to myself when I say that if you're in a good church, stay there and don't be afraid to follow the convictions God has given you.

      Rachel

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    4. Hi Hannah,
      I'm butting in here, but I've kinda been where you have been, and I feel a strong desire to answer. I think you should be very careful in regard to staying at your church. Many years ago, God began convicting me about some different issues. I stayed at my church, and it made things much harder on me. Nobody else believed as I did. Just like the serpent approached Eve, so he did with me: "Is that REALLY what God told you? Nobody else is doing that, and they're just fine. Is that really necessary?" I wasted time waffling back and forth squelching my convictions. Right now you feel strongly that you should wear skirts. However, we have a tempter that has free access to us. (run-on sentence alert:)How is it going to feel in a couple of months when you are feeling low, and you're at a church gathering, and everyone else looks all cute in their shorts/capris/cute jeans? You can wear skirts and still be cute, but it is hard to feel that way when you're possibly the only there conforming to your modest convicitons. How do I know this? Been there! It is much more encouraging to fellowship with others that believe as you do. I'm not saying that this is the ONLY thing you should look at, but it's important. In my situation, I ended up switching churches, and I am so glad I did. The good thing is that when you stay consistent, and walk in the light God has given you, you get more light. And you grow and get more blessed. Pray and have God show you what he would do. That's what I did, and I can tell you I am way more fulfilled than when I went to my other church. Blessings :)

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    5. Thank you ladies for your words of advice!(:
      Rachel, wow it sounds like we are going through the exact same thing!

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    6. Hi Hannah,
      My family attends a wonderful church. We are very happy there, and my 17 year old daughter and I are the only 2 that are dresses only. This has been the case for nearly 15 years. We rarely discuss it. It is not a big deal to us or others that we differ in this area. If someone brings up the subject and asks us, then we will discuss it. On the other hand, we used to attend a church where everyone was supposed to be dresses only. The behavior in that church was shameful. When a guest visited wearing pants, she was treated rudely. The preacher's sermon then would become about women wearing skirts and not "britches," as he put it. I suggest you live a godly example and don't pay attention to what others wear. If the Bible is being preached, and the love of Christ is there, it sounds like a great place to be.

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  8. Thanks for posting this, you have some really insightful thoughts here.

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  9. Dear Olivia, such a great post. Staying true to yourself and your beliefs sometimes can be a big challenge in this world today. Just remember you have to live with your decisions. So always be true to yourself. Be the best person you can be.Thank you for sharing. Blessings, Stephanie Means

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  10. Scanned over it cause I'm in a hurry, but wonderful post, Olivia! I love it! Very encouraging :)

    Keep up the good work!

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  11. Such a very good post with so much great Truth! Very well said!

    -Hannah

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  12. This post is a tremendous blessing to me! I am a college student at a secular college, and just last week I had to tell my professor that I couldn't go to see a required theatrical production because of its inappropriate content. Although he was civil about it, he did let me know that he did not agree with my position and that he thought I was not thinking rationally. I have tried not to let it bother me, but it still hurts a bit. Your post has been an encouragement to me to keep on standing for my faith even though I'm surrounded by those who do not want to understand.

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  13. This was great Olivia. I could NOT agree more. This time in my life; so many, many of these things I'd just love to shake into people! Haha! But the issue is, we need to examine ourselves, not others. That will make the change that will help ALL succeed.

    Much love,
    Cassie
    the eldest sister & writer
    Calico Sisters blog

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  14. This is convicting! ;) great blog post thank you for sharing!

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  15. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I needed this because I'm struggling so much with my new-found convictions about shopping ethically (from your blog.) No one seems to care, even (especially!) the Christian modesty FB group I'm part of. Why don't they get it?! Lol. Thanks for straightening me out.

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  16. Thank you for this encouragement Olivia!

    Blessings,
    Brigid
    the Middle Sister and Singer

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  17. I was wondering where did you find good business podcasts? Thanks, Rachel

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  18. I think you might enjoy checking out www.thelingerieshopny.com for it's really versatile collection of beautiful modestly designed sportswear and sleepwear mostly featuring long sleeves and decent necklines. Great line for girls and toddlers too. A really great collection of classic lux fashion for those that like to dress with dignity.

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  19. Olivia, this post is so helpful! I tend to come from the other end of the spectrum and am more apt to inwardly scold others for over-enthusiastically sharing, but these points are definitely worth referring to when I have a new passion or conviction to share.

    I so appreciate your effort to help your readers cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit even more so than a cohesive wardrobe. Keep up the good work, lovely!

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  20. These are my thoughts exactly, Olivia! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  21. Wow, I haven't read much on your site. (I came to it from something on Blimeycow which I don't visit all that often), but this is such a humble, thoughtful, amazing post. I wasn't expecting to encounter this. Thank you! ^_^

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  22. Oh my goodness, your blog is a BLESSING! I didn't know there were other girls like me that I can be encouraged by in this way.
    I love the way your pure spirit shines through your posts. Thank you :)

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Fresh Modesty is fashion blog which encourages girls to "Dress outside your box, but inside His Book!" I allow anonymous comments so those without accounts can comment, but I would really appreciate it if you would identify yourself by some form of a name. :) Thank you for taking the time to comment!