Approaching each new day with a clear conscience is perhaps one of the best feelings in the world. I remember a few right choices from youth made in response to my father’s oft-repeated question, “Will you be able to look yourself in the mirror come morning?” Ah, yes, haunting words that still keep me on the straight and narrow!
A conscience free from compromise—a life lived with biblical convictions—remains the distinguishing mark of a heart yielded to Christ.
The apostle Paul, though not perfect in every response (e.g., his reference to the high priest as a “whitewashed wall” comes to mind), exemplifies a man who had surrendered his life fully to the Son of God.
In complete obedience he made an ill-advised trip to Jerusalem and found himself the target of angry Jewish assassins. Rescued by soldiers and whisked away to Caesarea, Paul was allowed to appear before Governor Felix.
The charges were serious. The accusations of Jewish leaders were padded with exaggeration and described Paul as a plague, a creator of dissention and a ringleader of a seditious sect who had defiled the Temple. The use of such superlatives suggests that the apostle to the Gentiles must have upset the standard operating procedures of the Jewish religious system.
Contrary to his accusers, Paul’s defense cut past the verbal embellishments to the heart of the confrontation. “I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:15-16, NIV).
Paul was not an insurrectionist; he was a believer in the resurrection! As such, faith kept his actions and speech centered in Christ’s power and his conscience safely harbored in the truth.
Leaders of every variety—pastors, supervisors, missionaries and denominational executives—face circumstances that threaten to muddy a clear conscience. False accusations tempt us to speak harshly. Exaggeration of the facts can and will sidetrack us from the bedrock cause of a dispute. Honest communication is lost to the fear of personal or professional repercussion.
Paul had a lot to lose. His life and his freedom were at stake. Even so, he fearlessly and with firm conviction spoke of the glorious hope of the resurrection. In essence, he was confessing, “One day I will stand before God and give account for my life and behavior; I don’t want to be ashamed.”
Having a clear conscience before God and man is more than just the ability to look yourself in the mirror; it is seeing Him face to face!
By: Larry Spousta, supervisor of the North Pacific District
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