When astronauts take untethered space walks, they float in outer space without anything attaching them to the space station. What a feeling of complete freedom! They are untethered and free from all restraints—but in grave danger. I’m sure those astronauts feel relieved when they scramble safely back into the spaceship. They couldn’t survive out there alone.
Do you want to be untethered and free from any restraint? Consider what it was like during the raucous era of the Judges. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)—and that remains a widely accepted philosophy. These days, “Do whatever seems right in your own eyes” would make a popular bumper sticker slogan.
Rebellious and stubborn, the fickle Israelites were up and down, hot and cold, in their obedience to God. Sometimes they were faithful, but they quickly drifted back into unfaithfulness. Unfortunately, this pattern isn’t unusual. Sadly, many of us would admit it’s our story, too.
Convictions Over Preferences
In a do-your-own-thing society, God calls us to live by biblical convictions, not merely by our personal tastes. Personal preferences are the easy choice. They keep us skimming on the surface, but convictions drive us deeper. I like coconut cream pie, but I won’t die for it. I enjoy football, but it won’t ruin my life if my favorite team misses the playoffs.
There’s an old saying, “In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.” In other words, hold strong to your core beliefs, but be flexible in other matters. Our minds are like sponges. Convictions help us decide what to soak up and what to squeeze out. Ranchers have a saying: “It’s easier to guard the gate than to clean the corral.” Biblical values keep us on the right course and help us resist temptation.
Are you convinced about the reality of God? The trustworthiness of Scripture? The deity and lordship of Christ? Do your personal convictions include the Restoration Movement ideals of biblical authority, Christian unity, and fulfilling the Lord’s Great Commission?
Flawed but Faithful
In the book of Judges, the leaders were deeply flawed, and their stories reveal glaring weaknesses. Gideon obeyed the Lord and tore down the altar to Baal his father had built, but he did it under cover of darkness because he feared what others would think (Judges 6:25-27). Before leading the Israelites into battle, Gideon tested the Lord by putting out a fleece (vv. 36-40), and late in life he still struggled with idolatry, which “became a snare to Gideon and his family” (8:23-27). Others like Samson and Jephthah made foolish decisions. Yet, despite their weaknesses and flaws, the names of these leaders appear in God’s Honor Roll of Faith. “Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah . . . through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised” (Hebrews 11:32, 33).In the big picture, these flawed believers stood out from the crowd because of their bravery and convictions.
Someone has said, “The wishbone will never replace the backbone.” In an untethered culture, God calls us to be bold—not obnoxious, rude, and overbearing—but willing to express unashamed devotion to God, sacrificial love for our neighbors, and unyielding devotion to the truth. Convictions form the fertile soil where courage grows.