I have put off writing about this subject for a long time. I don’t want the debate. I don’t want anyone offended. But I feel very strongly the leading to do so now. I just want to start by saying this: Don’t let someone else’s conviction become your condemnation.
I grew up under a very oppressive hand of condemnation. Not just from family members, but peers as well. I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough; I was too serious, not serious enough. Wasn’t popular or too popular. I wasn’t the right gender. No, I am not kidding, I still have one family member that nearly hates me because I am not a boy. It’s sad really. Oh my, I could go on, but I won’t.
My point to telling you that is to get to this, all that ‘not the right thing’ mentioned above led me down a path of trying to find ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ if you will. I was well into my adulthood before I realized truly that it couldn’t be found. Oh, I hit a point in my late teens where I just didn’t care one iota what anyone else thought. This led me into a significant rebellious stage. My Mom referred to me as her ‘little rebel without a cause’. The irony, I wore it with a badge of honor. I was a James Dean fan and his most popular movie was “Rebel without a Cause”. I loved being compared to such a Hollywood icon. Oh, I was so lost and confused and frustrated.
This rebelliousness led me into some not-so-pretty relationships and “friendships”. I sunk further. I began to believe if I did ________ (fill in the blank) just like _________ (again, fill in the blank) that I’d be accepted. Oh, foolish young woman that I was….for such a long time. Can I tell you, it didn’t work. No surprise there right?
Flash forward to 2006, I was at my first woman’s conference. The speaker felt led to speak over some women in the group about being released from condemnation. Initially, I had no clue what she was talking about. As I listened to her, I learned that all that “not enough” that I lived my whole life under was condemnation. I began to feel this release inside of me that I have never found words to describe. She did an alter call and I couldn’t get up there fast enough! As this speaker continued speaking, I dropped to my knees and just sobbed. Until that moment, I don’t think I had ever cried so hard, or for so long. The knowledge, not just in my head, but my heart, that someone, Jesus, loved me just because I was me overwhelmed me. Release. Freedom. Peace.
What does all of this have to do with not allowing someone else’s conviction to become your condemnation? Everything! Condemnation is an evil spirit that doesn’t want to ever let go of someone that it’s had a strong grip on. It is constantly trying to work it’s way back into my life. For example: a few years ago, my sister-in-law felt led to wear skirts for a month. It became a year. We went to visit them and I took a couple of skirts with me. I did it to show respect for her conviction and to support her efforts to display to her daughters, my nieces, feminity. But oh how easy it would have been to make her conviction my own and fall right back under the whisper of condemnation. It sounded something like this: “You know, if you don’t wear skirts all the time like she does, no one will believe that you truly love Jesus.”, or “You know, everyone will call her blessed because she wears her skirts and they will curse you.” Oh, the stupid things condemnation says. And when you’ve been under that thumb, reason, logic, and common sense take a road trip to Bora Bora and leave you behind.
Recently, I had to stand firm against an overt effort to bring me under condemnation once again. A dear friend wears head coverings. She is very convicted by this stand. I don’t agree with her theology behind it and she knows I don’t. We have an “agree to disagree” arrangement on doctrine. However, during a conversation I had to explain that the Lord had not convicted me to do the same (wear head coverings). In fact years prior, I had done a study on “coverings” and I do not believe for one second that God will send me to the firey pit of hell for not wearing something on my head. She didn’t agree.
Door wide open for condemnation to sneak its ugly little toe into.
I reminded her that we both love the Lord. We agree that Jesus went to the cross for our sins and to save, restore and redeem us. I’m not going to argue the rest. I love her just the same. Our difference of doctrinal understanding will not change that for me, but I cannot allow her conviction to become my condemnation.
It’s by the grace of God that I recognize the efforts of the evil one to bring me back under condemnation. There have certainly been numerous attempts in the last year alone. But I want to take this moment now to encourage you to remain confident in the knowledge that you are a child of God, you are loved beyond measure, you are blessed and you have an army of angels surrounding you with the King of kings, Lord of lords at the command, guiding you, leading you and protecting you.