How’s your conscience?

Published 10:13 pm Friday, May 3, 2013

By Rev. Chris Surber

I have a framed fortune cookie saying on my wall that reads “A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.”

I don’t follow the sayings of fortune cookies, check my horoscope, or follow the zodiac or any other similar mystic or astrological advice. However, there is real wisdom in this quippy little statement.


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In fact, this statement at least points to biblical wisdom: “A murderer’s tormented conscience will drive him into the grave. Don’t protect him!” (Proverbs 28:17 NLT)

Are there any worse ailments than a tormented conscience? The pain of an aching conscience is like the pain of a man who stepped in a bear trap. Though he was able to pull the trap free and continue along his journey through the woods, he was in constant pain, and his mobility was hindered because of the weight and the grip of its steel teeth relentlessly clenching him.

It is interesting that in this age of self-inflation even the internal lynch mobs of pride, irreligiousness, brass and bluster have not been able to rout the conscience.

Though many have tried to kill the conscience, it still testifies to the truth. Even in the most calloused minds, where the conscience has been poisoned a little at a time with the refuse of our lewd culture, it survives.

The conscience is the mark of every man or woman’s life. The health of a person’s conscience reflects not only what they have or have not done but also what they believe about what they have or have not done.

If a thief justifies his thievery because he believes it unjust that others have more than he does, he has allowed the impetus of greed to supersede the principle of justice. However, his conscience will catch up to him before all is said and done.

The conscience is like a weed that keeps growing back, even after it has been pulled. Some weeds can be sprayed with chemicals, hacked with a hoe, tilled with a tiller, and still keep coming back. They seem to be indestructible.

The poor conscience of a man can be hidden in the dark, but it cannot easily be killed. On the other hand, those who carry a good conscience are their own best witness in the courtroom of self-examination.

The Puritan pastor of four centuries ago, Thomas Watson, wrote, “A good conscience can sleep in the mouth of a cannon.” No man is wealthier than he who lies down knowing he has done what he can, where he is, with what he has.

Under the false accusations of his friends, Job said it this way: “I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live.” (Job 27:6 NLT)

I especially like the way Mark Twain put it when he wrote, “An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.” A constant annoyance is often a greater hindrance than a momentary catastrophe.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at