Spring is here. The rains usher in a beautiful display of flowers. Trees are bursting with life and lush plants emerge from the ground. The birds are chirping their happy songs. “The earth is vibrantly alive with my blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling).
This year a female cardinal has returned from last year, only to become a pest. This cardinal has decided the light fixture over the front door will make a wonderful place to build her nest and leave droppings! Before I knew of her plan, I could not understand why each day I had to sweep debris off the front porch. One day I looked up and saw the beginnings of a bird nest. I immediately decided there are plenty of trees nearby where this mama bird can create a place for her family, and declared war to keep that nest from being built. Daily, we use a blower to blow out the small pieces of debris she places there. This really ruffles her feathers when she returns to discover there is no nest. She is determined–but I am too. It feels like I am playing a game with her. The more the nest is blown out, the more she drops more debris. One day I called her a “birdbrain” (love the pun). That’s Texan for she has no lic’ of sense!
Sometimes we can be birdbrains too, doing the same thing over and over again without learning our lesson. Some people repetitively get upset with their church, leave, and go from church to church, repeating the same actions. Others blow up at their loved ones, continuing the cycle of abuse and wondering why their anger pushes others away. Gossipers who pass on private information wonder why people refuse to share their hearts with them. A wayward spouse continues to ask for forgiveness for hurting their mate, only to become wayward again. Many times people are blind to the folly of their own actions and continue to be birdbrains. As a believer, at some point, conviction will hopefully come from the Lord and lead to a healthy change.
There is a big difference between condemnation from the enemy and conviction from God and His Spirit. One leads to negative feelings and the other leads to a positive change. Condemnation is “the action of condemning someone to a punishment; a sentencing.” The enemy will do his best to heap condemnation and guilt upon a believer, making that person feel doomed to God’s wrath and punishment. They feel undeserving of the forgiveness of God. I have heard people say, “I can’t change things and the Lord will never forgive me for ___________.” But God is full of mercy, grace and forgiveness–not condemnation. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV). The enemy is the one who wants us to feel guilty and defeated, not God.
Conviction is defined as “the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth.” Satan or someone used by the enemy can attempt to heap condemnation on another, but as believers, the Holy Spirit convicts us of the heart of the matter. Actually, it is a good thing to be convicted of a wrongdoing because it leads us to a better place and shows the need to be restored to a deeper fellowship with the Lord. He never gives up on us, therefore we should never give up on ourselves. “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV).
When the Lord convicts you of something, He does it out of love for you. Sometimes it is hard to accept. If we don’t respond to conviction the first time, the Lord will continue to convict us until there is a wake-up call, especially if we have walked around the same mountain over and over like the “birdbrain” cardinal. Stop walking in circles, wearing out the souls of your shoes, and examine yourself. As believers, we should all desire a pure heart before the Lord. Cleansing and freedom come with a purified heart. As David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ESV).
Some may ask, how do you hear the Lord convicting you? First, we should ask the Lord if there is anything keeping us from moving forward, and be prepared to hear His voice when He answers. One way we hear God’s voice is through reading Scripture. “Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. . .” (2 Timothy 3:18 World English Bible). Scripture is very clear on many things that draw us away from the Lord, including unforgiveness, pride and arrogance, poor financial management, disrespect for others, neglecting the poor, giving full vent to our anger, and so on.
Another way we hear the Lord convicting us is through thoughts that continually come into our minds, making us feel uncomfortable. The Lord does not shout at us; instead, He whispers our convictions. Quieting our hearts prepares us to listen for Him. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).
I am unsure how long that bird will continue trying to make her nest, but the time will come when she will give up. I am so thankful the Lord never gives up on us in our disobedience but convicts us in order to be happier and in deeper fellowship with Him.
If, like the bird, you find yourself doing the same thing over and over and not getting anywhere, stop, become quiet in your spirit, read the Scriptures, and listen for Him. Recognize the thought-filled nudge. The Lord wants us to be near to Him. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8 NIV). When conviction comes, acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness, and walk away from what you are being convicted about, no matter how many times the enemy tries to sway you to return. There is victory and freedom in hearing God and obeying.
Lord, I love doing life with You while spending my time here on earth. Thank You for the mercy and grace extended to me during those times of my disobedience. Your love for me is unconditional. I thank You that when I step away, You draw me back through conviction and not condemnation. I always desire to be in deeper fellowship with You. You are my all and all. I open my heart to you, Lord, and ask you to show me your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.