We usually think of passion as a kind of conviction, like love. We say, “I am passionate about this or that.” And it is true that passion is a kind of conviction. The first definition of conviction means to be on the receiving end of a legal judgment. Convicts in prison have been convicted. To be convicted is to be guilty of a crime as charged. The second definition points to the act or process of convincing or of being convinced about something. It means that you believe something strongly, that you have a particular position or attitude about something.
The 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary includes this definition of passion: “The state of being acted upon; subjection to an external agent or influence; a passive condition; — opposed to action; capacity of being affected by external agents; susceptibility of impressions from external agents.”
This suggests that passion comes from outside of one’s self. To be passionate is to be effected by an external force. Think of love as a passionate feeling, action or conviction. People in love are effected by an external force, they are effected by the person they love. People in love are called to have the conviction to bear with one another. People who love people have the conviction to bear with other people. But what is it that requires the burden of bearing with others?
Isn’t love and the passion it engenders a feeling of joy and butterflies in the belly? No, it isn’t. That’s infatuation or foreplay.
Real love, real passion is the conviction to bear the foibles and follies of another. It is to bear the pain of conviction, the pain of commitment to remain in love — in relationship — in spite of the pain that such conviction brings. And it will bring pain! Why? Because people aren’t perfect. Because people are full of sin, full of short-sightedness and poor judgment. Because people make bad decisions, and because decisions have consequences.
The greatest passion the world has ever known is the passion of Christ, who endured the suffering of the cross for the salvation of His people. Jesus Christ is known as the “suffering servant” who embodied perfect love. Jesus provides the most effective model for “servant leadership” and the passion of principled conviction to do what is right. And doing what is right fuels growth and success.
“…And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8).