“So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (Acts 24:16, ESV).
I have been praying for two doctors on the mission field for several years. Each is a friend and each in a ministry important to me. With God’s present plan for my life, I have no option to visit them and work in the field with them. In my Bible study this week, I reached the point where Paul was facing the Sanhedrin near the end of his ministry. The first words out of his mouth bore into my heart and mind. “I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day” (Acts 23:1b, ESV). My reflection on this verse enabled me to realize that I should add action to my prayers with regular financial support for each of these friends. Now I am doing so.
Every doctor has a conscience. Certainly some are shaped by culture and environment to be different from mine; but for each of us, our conscience is an inner compass that nudges us toward the right direction when our desire might turn us a different way.
Clearly some have distorted compasses. There is only one true North. (I once had a compass that would always point toward my hunting gear…more harmful than helpful in a dark wood). Paul defined God as his true North and was convinced that he was on course.
When I listen to my conscience speak, I learn of things I do that I should not be doing. I need to stop doing them.
My conscience also nudges me about things I should do that I have not done…like investing in the ministry of the doctors for whom I pray.
If we are truly seeking God’s will with our lives, and if we are calibrating our conscience regularly with His Word, within the community of the church, it would be good for each of us to ask periodically: “What am I doing that my conscience tells me I should stop?” And, “What am I not doing that I know I should begin to do?”
We then should trust our conscience and move forward in action, not to get points from heaven, but to please the God who leads. Perhaps then we could say with Paul, “I have lived my life before God in all good conscience.”
Hone my conscience to make it true. Then give me the will to listen.