Monday, January 27, 2014

Understanding Conviction of Conscience

“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.”
― Mark Twain
Our consciences tell us
What went wrong
Though nobody else sees it
Our consciences see it strong!
The blessed arrangement of justice
Self-requited under the Lord
As we judge ourselves
We align with God’s accord.
Some will see it as the leading of the Holy Spirit – and I subscribe to this much of the time – whilst others see it as the role of our moral inventories sitting in judgment: the conscience. One and the same, perhaps, we are blessed to be so self-aware that we listen and take the conviction of conscience as counsel worthy of obeying.
The conscience of most is piqued in the doing of, or letting go, of wrong. We experience guilt, and perhaps even shame, for not standing up and doing what was right; what was God’s will.
Now, what inspired this present thought bubble is this: our consciences even convict us when no one else is onto us. If we have skimped on a commitment elsewhere, and there is a relational component, i.e., we’ve let someone down, even if we are the only ones who know it, we may well think the other person is ‘onto’ us. If we don’t feel part of a team, our consciences give us away as we see the division working against us, where that ‘division’ may actually be a fabrication of our imaginations – our perception is skewed in favour of actually seeing what only we are seeing. When we feel like we are missing the mark in any area of life we tend to see ourselves condemned – regardless of what others truly think, and, indeed, we may even be blind to what they are saying about us that is good. It works the other way, too; when we see the rampant injustice against us in a social setting we see things the way our perceptions have made them.
Our consciences are powerful instruments through which God works, in leading us toward repentance – for our own sakes.
The only exception to all this is the seared conscience. When we ignore the conscience long enough what wrong we are doing stops mattering. This is a travesty against life. We cannot bear a relational life if we aren’t in tune with our consciences.
***
The conviction of our consciences means we stand judged and condemned by ourselves for what we, alone, discern as wrongs done by ourselves. Such a conviction is the invitation to repentance. It’s the only way we can live with ourselves again.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.             

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