All night long my sleep was interrupted with more and more ideas to ad to my already monstrous list of wrongs I perceived were done to me by a contractor I had hired. The more I thought about it the angrier I became. I was livid. You see, I have discovered there are two sides to my brain, the Italian side and the Christian side. One says wackem and the other says love him. Seriously though—we do go back and forth between the flesh and the spirit, do we not?
Well, the next morning as I began my private time with God, I prayed, Lord, search me today, as I always do every day. I then opened to my first reading assignment in my read through the Bible in a year program and this is the verse I read:
Jeremiah [12:1] LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. Now let me bring you this complaint:
It was an amazing epiphany for me. I got down on my knees and asked God to please forgive me for allowing a spirit of self-righteousness, bitterness and anger to invade my heart and sear my conscience. Please forgive me for not living what You have given me to teach others. Help me, Lord to truly become the man You intended.
I realized that any injustice, if it exists, is not for me to discern. My only assignment is to bring it before Him. He helped me understand that what this man and I were dealing with is not the issue—the issue has to do with how much He loved both of us and expects our response to always be going to Him first. Crawling up in His lap. Gaining His perspective. To close the story—I did write this man and instead of expecting anything from him in return—God gave me the power to forgive and ask for forgiveness from him.
Ok, so what does all this have to do with our title? Almost daily I hear people saying vote your conscience when it comes to the upcoming election. It begs the question, what is conscience and what are the implications here. As followers of Jesus we understand the Biblical perspective of man being made up of three parts, body, soul and spirit.
In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul says, The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience…T. M. Moore, writing in the Christian Worldview Journal describes conscience this way: The mind, heart, and conscience are three components of the soul: all must be shaped and brought into the effort of learning and living according to the teachings of sound doctrine.
What is the conscience? In the soul the conscience is that immaterial component that develops and stores our values, priorities, and default choices. Another way of thinking of the conscience is as the will. In the soul a continuous dialog is underway between the mind – what we think – the heart – how we feel – and the conscience – our most basic convictions. The conscience functions as a kind of referee in the soul, bringing together the thoughts of our minds and the affections of our hearts in a harmonious and truthful way, so that love can issue from all our learning. Thus, it is very important that the conscience be in proper working order – what Paul describes as a “good” conscience, one that pleases God and serves men (Acts 24:16).
Please notice the phrase; Thus, it is very important that the conscience be in proper working order. My friend, have you examined your conscience. It is clear from my personal illustration that even those of us who are seemingly mature Christians who have followed the Lord for many years are prone to having our conscience seared.
So, as we ready ourselves to enter that voting process this time may I suggest a few ideas to consider? Here are a series of questions you may want to take before God:
- What role may self-righteousness, bitterness and anger be playing right now as it relates to the condition of my heart? Remember, what we think affects how we feel, (our heart) and that impacts our convictions.
- Lord, am I truly seeking You and Your perspective on the matters before me or have I made up my mind without You?
- If I examine the time I spend watching and absorbing news VS seeking you in prayer, how would it stack up?
- To what extent have I allowed my convictions to be shaped by others as opposed to my own Spirit-led discovery?
- Am I finding it difficult to realize the good God may be seeing in the midst of all of the turmoil and confusion?
- Am I finding it difficult to be at peace knowing that God is not anxious about this or any election?
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…
Titus 1:15 (NIV) To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.
Some people say they will follow their conscience…many of us have dead consciences. Your conscience is no longer a safe guide. You’ve deadened it. —Billy Graham