“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” ~ 1 John 3:20 (NIV)
Your conscience can’t be trusted. Neither can mine. We may feel blameless and be guilty—or vice versa. Sometimes, our consciences point bony fingers at us when we’ve done nothing wrong.
Only Christ, not our conscience, is equipped to correctly judge us. But other people and guilty feelings can confuse us. Let me share how I’ve experienced this.
At a women’s event, I noticed two strangers talking in a corner of the room. I smiled and introduced myself. One withered me with her glare. The other was cordial but her eyes held no warmth. What had I done to offend them? I wondered.
Later in the evening I tried again. Maybe I’d interrupted some private conversation the first time. I walked over and thanked them for coming. The hostile one squashed every attempt I made to converse. I left searching my memory for what I’d done to offend these women.
That encounter haunted me for three days. Had I been too forward or insensitive? Did I need to apologize? If so, for what?
I considered calling my close friend who’d also greeted them. Maybe she knew what was going on. But I hated to come across as being petty.
To my surprise, when my friend invited me to lunch, she brought it up but in regard to herself. Their palpable animosity had left her questioning herself too.
Both of our consciences had joined forces with a stranger’s rudeness and accused us. Rationally, we knew we hadn’t wronged anyone, but our emotions whispered: You must have done something.
A Better Barometer
I find it amazing the Apostle Paul didn’t even examine himself. The Lord was his judge (1 Corinthians 4:3-5). Jesus is a far better corrector than our consciences. His clear and specific reviews enlighten us. Did you get that? He precisely edits our errors without confusion. This is quite different from the world, the flesh, and the devil’s accusations that leave us churning in foggy turmoil.
It’s taken me a while to realize that someone’s disapproval doesn’t mean I did something wrong. Jesus and the Apostle Paul outraged many, but not because they mishandled situations. The same words that ignited faith in some unleashed murder in others. If Paul learned to live with others’ criticisms, so can we.
For me, it does not feel like “a very small thing” to be judged by someone, including my own conscience. But Paul’s example teaches me to stand on Christ’s opinion and to remember God is greater than my conscience.
Question: Is your conscience lax or condemning?
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Learn more from of my book Give Yourself a Break.
Debbie W. Wilson