A mother was helping her son with his spelling assignment and came to the words ‘conscious’ and ‘conscience’. When she asked him if he knew the difference between the two, he responded, “Sure, Mom, ‘conscious’ is when you are aware of something and ‘conscience’ is when you wish you weren’t.”
The conscience is like a sharp square peg in our hearts. If we are confronted by a questionable situation, that square begins to turn, and its corners cut into our hearts, warning us withy an inward sensation against doing whatever confronts us. If the conscience is ignored time after time, the corners of the square are gradually worn down, and it virtually becomes a circle. When that circle turns within our hearts, there is no inner sensation of warning, and we are left without a conscience.
Have you recently flown on an airplane? Do you recall the ritual of walking through the electronic device to detect concealed weapons? “A marvel of modern technology,” you might think.
centuries ago, one of the palaces of Chang-an, the ancient capital of what is
now known as
A healthy conscience acts in much the same way: it tugs at the concealed sins in our lives as though it were God’s hidden hand.
The Internal Revenue Service received the following letter from a conscience stricken taxpayer:
“Dear Sir: My conscience bothered me. Here is $175.00, which I owe in back taxes.”
There was a P.S. at the bottom that read: “If my conscience still bothers me, I’ll send in the rest.”
This taxpayer’s response to a red warning light is not only humorous but also illustrates an important truth: one’s conscience can become insensitive.
When Clare Boothe Luce, then seventy-five, was asked, “Do you have any regrets?” she answered: “Yes, I should have been a better person. Kinder. More tolerant. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I remember a girlhood friend of mine who had a brain tumor and called me three times to come and see her. I was always too busy, and when she died, I was profoundly ashamed. I still remember that after fifty-six years.”
Throughout his administration, Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire, especially during the scarring years of the Civil War. And though he knew he would make errors of office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. So strong was this resolve that he once said, "I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me."── Today In The Word, August, 1989, p. 21.
When Sgt. Ray Baarz of the Midvale, Utah, police department opened his wallet, he noticed his driver's license had expired. Embarrassed at having caught himself red-handed, he had no alternative. He calmly and deliberately pulled out his ticket book and wrote himself a citation. Then Baarz took the ticket to the city judge who fined him five dollars. "How could I give a ticket to anyone else for an expired license in the future if I didn't cite myself?" Baarz asked.── Source Unknown.
Did you know that ever since 1811 (when someone who had defrauded the government anonymously sent $5 to Washington D.C.) the U.S. Treasury has operated a Conscience Fund? Since that time almost $3.5 million has been received from guilt-ridden citizens.── Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 70.
The great attorney, orator, and statesman Daniel Webster was such an imposing figure in court that he once stared a witness out of the courtroom. Apparently Webster knew the man was there to deliver false testimony, so he fixed his "dark, beetle-browed" eyes on the man and searched him . According to the story, later in the trial "Webster looked around again to see if [the witness] was ready for the inquisition. The witness felt for his hat and edged toward the door. A third time Webster looked on him, and the witness could sit no longer. He seized his chance and fled from the court and was nowhere to be found." ── Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, January 1992, p.31.
A man consulted a doctor, "I've been misbehaving, Doc, and my conscience is troubling me," he complained. "And you want something that will strengthen your willpower?" asked the doctor. "Well, no," said the fellow. "I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience." ── Bits & Pieces, May 27, 1993, p. 21.
Conscience tells us that we ought to do right, but it does not tell us what right is--that we are taught by God's word. ── H.C. Trumbull.
Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a "necessary evil," it begins to look more and more necessary and less and less evil. ── Sidney J. Harris.
As someone else has said, "She won't listen to her conscience. She doesn't want to take advice from a total stranger." ── Bob Goddard, St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed in two ways: By a change of life or by a change of conscience.── Leo Tolstoy.
The trouble with the advice, "Follow your conscience" is that most people follow it like someone following a wheelbarrow--they direct it wherever they want it to go, and then follow behind.── Traditional.
The glory of a good person is the testimony of a good conscience. A good conscience is able to bear very much and is very cheerful in adversities. An evil conscience is always fearful and unquiet. Never rejoice except when you have done well. You shall rest sweetly if your heart does not accuse you. Sinners never have true joy or feel inward peace, because 'there is no peace for the wicked,' says the Lord (Isaiah 57:21). The glory of the good is in their consciences, and not in the tongues of others, The gladness of the just is of God, and in God; and their joy is of the truth.
A person will easily be content and pacified whose conscience is pure. If you consider what you are within, you will not care what others say concerning you. People consider the deeds, but God weighs the intentions. To be always doing well and to esteem little of one's self is the sign of a humble soul. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends, 'says Paul (2 Corinthians 10:18). To walk inwardly with God, and not to be kept abroad by any outward affection, is the state of a spiritual person. Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what it regards as the highest authority. If I am in the habit of steadily facing toward God, my conscience will always introduce God's perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offense. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God's Son that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks. ── C.F.H. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics, Eerdmans, 1957, p. 509ff.
have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand, with the setting sun,
And hate myself for the things I've done.
don't want to keep on the closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself, as I come and go,
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of a man I really am;
I don't want to dress up myself in sham.
want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to look at myself and know
That I'm bluster and bluff and empty show.
can never hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.
── This poem's origin is unknown. It could be from: Courage - You Can Stand Strong in the Face of Fear, Jon Johnston, 1990, SP Publications, pp. 90-91.