"So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man."
Thoughts for Today:I have really been struggling with business and financial decisions lately. The economy has been a challenge and I don't have a clear idea of "the right" thing to do. I don't want to make a mistake which might put my family at risk financially, nor do I want to commit an ethical blunder because I am trying to protect assets. Sometimes things can be so confusing (especially when money is involved).
As I discussed my dilemma with other Christian brothers including the pastor of my church, there seemed to be three common themes or questions:
1. Have you prayed about it?
2. What does the Bible say about it?
3. Is your conscience clear before God and man?
All three of those force us to defer to God's higher authority rather than our own self interest. But that last one from our passage today is a particularly sticky one -- it throws man into the mix as well. Maybe I could justify my conscience clear before God, but is it clear before man? (This implies the laws of our society as well as the interests of another individual or group.) And if I could keep my conscience clear before man, what about God? He knows my heart and my intent. For Him righteousness does not involve legal gamesmanship or self justification.
All of this brought me back to 1 (prayer), and 2 (Scripture). Prayer convicted me and Scripture instructed me: It's all God's so why try to hold on to something that isn't yours to begin with? When I let go of things/stuff/money I finally saw God's will in my circumstance. It was really pretty simple. Too bad it took so many months to figure it out. I guess I'm just a slow learner.
In our previous devotions, Paul admitted he was a follower of Jesus Christ (Part 1: What I Admit); his belief in all Scripture (Part 2: What I Believe); and his hope in the promise of God for a resurrection of all believers and non-believers (Part 3: What I Hope for). In our passage today, he now tells us these foundational principles control everything he does (Part 4: What I Do), as he "strives always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." I think that's a pretty good way to approach life on this earth and the myriad of choices and decisions we face each and every day.
Questions to Ponder:Romans 12:1 tells us, "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship." We are a "living" sacrifice. Why? Because we regularly crawl off the altar to go back to doing our own will rather than God's. When we struggle it's because we've lost our way. We need to get back up on the altar. Put our stuff back up there as well. Are you having difficulty with a decision? What does the Bible say about it? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit's influence? Have you surrendered everything you have and everything you are to God?