I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. Acts 24: 16
Do you remember that little voice in your head as a child that would tell you that you shouldn’t do certain things – things such as lying, stealing, cheating, hurting someone, breaking a promise, being somewhere you weren’t supposed to be, or keeping things from your parents that you knew you shouldn’t?
We always knew we could trust our conscience to guide us. And if we followed it, we didn’t have to worry about carrying around the burden of feeling guilty or having the fear of being caught. We could live with a clear conscience. Those little feelings of discomfort or “promptings to do the right thing” probably saved quite a few of us from time to time!
When I think of a “clear conscience”, I am reminded of an old episode of the Andy Griffith Show in which little Opie let someone else take the blame for something he had done. After he was tucked in for the night, he kept lying in his bed, with the covers pulled up around his neck, waiting anxiously for the door to open at any minute. He just knew his dad would come in, angry and upset, confront him with his crime, and punish him for it.
Finally, he couldn’t stand waiting any longer! He got up, ran into the living room, and blurted out his transgression! He remembered that he had been the one who had left the bird cage open, and his beloved little bird, Dickie, had flown away. He realized he couldn’t let Aunt Bee take the blame for something that was obviously his fault, and he just had to confess. Andy listened patiently, thanked him for telling the truth, and then reminded him that he would still have to suffer the consequences of his actions. But Opie was ok with that. He could now sleep and be at peace.
We may still hear this little voice, our conscience, from time to time and it can be valuable in helping us make wise choices – if life hasn’t silenced it too much with its “noise”! God gave us this little internal mechanism of knowing right from wrong for our own benefit and protection, but He knew it would only work if it has been properly “programmed”.
Our parents taught us certain moral lessons and rules to live by as we were growing up, we may have heard them in church and at school, and they became ingrained in our minds and hearts. But as we grew and changed, other people began to influence our thinking and beliefs. We may have rebelled against past standards and our value system changed over time. We began to reject or ignore those voices we once heard and no longer felt remorse or guilt. Nor did we fear judgment from others. We became desensitized to the ways of the world and even took on some of them as our own. We learned to rationalize, defend, and embrace new ideals and behaviors as we became more and more comfortable with them.
We’ve all heard the quote, “Let your conscience be your guide.” But sadly we can’t always depend on our conscience to tell us what is best. It may have become unreliable and even misleading.
Life and the people we have associated with have taught us many lessons, and not all of them have been positive and beneficial. We may no longer be able to trust in that voice we once heard. It can only become trustworthy when we use it along with the Word of God and his Holy Spirit within us. Only then can we have the protection and guidance we need. Then our conscience can become our life line and connection with God.
May we always keep our “conscience clear” before God and in our relationships with others. May our lives be filled with integrity and goodness to honor Him.
Dear God, may we be mindful of your truths and principles and live by them. May our consciences be aligned with your Word and your Spirit to live lives worthy of your love and grace. Amen