“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5
Why don’t we listen to our conscience? Why do we sometimes ignore that inner voice that helps us choose the right thing to do? Maybe because your conscience is a solution in itself. Your conscience basically acts as “stop/go” decision point. It’s a stop sign that you either stop at or run.
But consciences don’t tell you what to do. Your conscience may warn you before you make an important decision. It will tell you what not to do, but it will not tell you what to do. That requires wisdom. Our conscience warns us about the potential danger ahead, but wisdom tells us how to act wisely.
So, what happens without wisdom? What happens when you have trained your conscience unwisely? What happens when you want to do good, but you haven’t lived wisely for your conscience to work like it ought to? It becomes easier to make poor decisions. When we repeatedly ignore the warnings, our conscience will become calloused and ultimately useless.
God has given every person a conscience to guard and guide them. The conscience, along with the Holy Spirit, identifies what is wrong and what should be avoided. Having a clear conscience means we are careful to avoid sinning against God or others with our words, actions, or attitudes.
The Old Testament prophet Samuel is a good example. In 1 Samuel 12 we find Samuel addressing all of Israel as an old man. Samuel made himself accountable to the people. He had fulfilled their request for a king. He had completed his role as their leader. And now he stood before them and made himself accountable to them. In verse 3 he basically requests a performance review on the job he has done as a prophet. “Now testify against me in the presence of the Lord and before his anointed one. Whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever cheated any of you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe and perverted justice? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong.” They respond in verse 4: “No,” they replied, “you have never cheated or oppressed us, and you have never taken even a single bribe.”
“The Lord and his anointed one are my witnesses today,” Samuel declared, “that my hands are clean.” (1 Samuel 12:5) Samuel had a clear conscience. He stood before all of Israel and asked the people who had observed him throughout his life what wrongs he had done to any of them and no one accused him. If we were addressing all the people in our lives would we experience the same result? And if not, would we be willing to make it right.
Our goal is to have a conscience that is clear toward every person we know. And when we stumble we make things right.
- When confronted with questionable situations or opportunities, can you trust your conscience to guide you to make right choices?