Have you tuned in to watch The Firm on TV yet? I remember reading the bestseller years ago and later watching the movie as this young lawyer graduates and gets his first job. I can still picture he and his wife celebrating by buying pizza with change they found in the couch! But then things got way more complicated and he struggled to live out what he believed, almost losing everything he really cared about in the process.
This lawyer drama is just one of the newest offerings, joining a long history of popular shows from Boston Legal to more reality TV trials like Judge Judy. I think we’re drawn to these stories because of the CONVICTION (or lack of it) on display week or week. We want to see how it turns out—will the characters stay true or lose their way?
The classic definition of conviction is “holding a firm and strong belief.” And conviction is not just standing for anything. The characters that we root for are standing for something that’s right. And really you’re standing by what you believe is right because you wouldn’t know how to live with yourself if you didn’t.
Conviction isn’t just a strongly held opinion—it’s a powerfully held belief that’s got to be founded in something truer, deeper, and stronger than just you. This brings to mind of another trial more than five hundred years ago.
In an old movie about Martin Luther, there’s a scene when he is fighting for his life because of what he’s written. Men in robes want him to admit he was wrong. So the camera zooms in on Luther’s response. He’s shaking with fury. He stares down his accuser, and he gives his famous and defiant speech ending with “I cannot and will not recant.” It was such a powerful moment—you just expected the music to swell and for Luther to jump on his horse and ride off into the sunset. It’s a great picture of biblical conviction.
But the historical account of what really happened tells a different story. When he was asked, “Will you recant?” Luther actually said, “I was wondering if you could give me another day to think about it.” Another day to think about it? Is that really conviction? As a matter of fact, it is—the best kind.
Through the night, Luther wrestled with his beliefs. He questioned his own conclusions. He re-evaluated his ideas. The next morning when he stood before his accusers, he wasn’t arrogant or angry. He was broken and nervous but he said with a simple seasoned resolve: “Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”
These words teach us something important about conviction. Conviction isn’t about ego. It isn’t pounding your fist on the witness stand to be heard. As a parent, it made us realize a few important things about conviction. It doesn’t just happen instantly. It’s developed over time.
Conviction is built by continually doing what’s right and good, day after day. That’s why a great verse for kids to know is 2 Thessalonians 3:13, “Never tire of doing what is right.”
Ultimately, what Martin Luther had over Ethan Hunt was years of time spent getting to know God, reading what He’d written and internalizing that—so that when the day came, he could stand by what he’d written too.
That’s what we should want for our kids–conviction that stands and lasts because it’s deeply rooted in the character of God, not in an individual’s personal opinion or attitude. If we’re not connected to the nature of God, we are like a wick without oil. And we will burn out quickly.
We’re excited to focus on getting rooted in conviction this month to raise up a generation of kids who will grow up knowing how to stand for what is right, because they’ve spent time getting to know who they put their faith in.