A few weeks ago, my seven year old son Levi timidly walked into the living room several minutes after I tucked him in bed. His countenance was sullen and his head was down. When I asked him what was wrong, his lip started to tremble and his eyes got watery. It turned out that the previous day at school he received a not-so-great color on his behavioral chart. The problem is, he told me that his color for the day was green—satisfactory—when it was actually light green, which isn’t so great. Basically, he lied to me and was now coming clean.
My heart broke for him as he stood there, fearing the consequences. Instinctively, I gave Levi a big hug and let him know how proud of him I was for telling me the truth. Although I could have—maybe should have—scolded him for lying, I didn’t. Instead, I explained that what he felt was the Holy Spirit convicting him and moving upon his conscience to make things right and do the right thing.
In kids, the conscience is such a sensitive thing. Even young children, made in the image of God, know right from wrong and painstakingly feel the unsettling of the conscience when doing the wrong thing. Over time, however, the conscience can grow calloused by disobedience. Things that used to make us feel guilty no longer bother us. Sins that the Bible clearly warn against can be justified once, then twice, and before long, they don’t even bother us anymore. The word of God speaks of people “whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
The conscience is a precious gift from God. Paul pleads with his young son in the faith Timothy to keep a clear conscience, “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked” (1 Timothy 1:19). Although our eternal salvation is secure in Christ, because of the finished work of Christ alone, our faith –our walk of faith on this earth—can be shipwrecked by repeatedly violating our God-given conscience.
I don’t want my faith walk to be shipwrecked—immobilized—by slowly allowing and accepting things into my life that violate God’s standards. I realize how easy this is to happen. Let’s take inventory of what we are allowing into our spirits. What are we giving permission to stay that needs to go? Like Levi, who couldn’t go to sleep because of lying to me, I want to be clean before my Father in heaven. Amid the challenges of life that are beyond our control, there is nothing more peaceful than laying our heads on the pillow at night with a pure conscience before our Heavenly Father.