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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Christian Deportment of Conviction

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., right, accompanied by the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy,
 is booked by city police Lt. D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Ala.,on
 Feb. 23, 1956.

When I think of people and causes that I have admired, a central ingredient is always a good measure of certitude. For those who have read my blogs mentioning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you know that I greatly admire him. In his deportment and speaking style one thing is abundantly clear—here was a man who had immense certitude about the rectitude of civil rights, about the wrongness of the Vietnam War, about the need for economic justice, and (vitally important) about the spirit in which his certitudes and convictions were to be expressed (namely, he was to manifest a Christian spirit even when under withering fire from the opposition). [But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galations 5:22-23 NIV).] While giving full voice to his convictions, he was never to assume a mantle of angry self-righteousness; for to do so would render himself more culpable than even his most rabid opponents.

Thus certitude (which is undoubtedly warranted and the necessary psychological base for firm conviction and decisive action) must always be accompanied by charity, goodwill, and humility bestowed only by the grace of the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Father. The final test of a Christian is not in harboring convictions but in pursing them with a Christian spirit.

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