In the late 1940s a man made a bad decision and became a thief. He stole $20 to $30 from a Sears cash register. Just the other day, now 60 years later, an elderly man came in with an envelope addressed to the Sears manager. Inside was a note and a $100 bill. In the note, the man explained what he had done and how he wanted to pay back what he stole with interest. Even though the amount the man stole wasn’t much, clearly this was something that plagued his conscience for a good long time. Maybe even for 60 years.
There is both good and bad to this story. Obviously what he did was wrong. Even though he wanted to pay back the money, it seems he didn’t want to face the possible consequences of his actions. He didn’t leave a name or any information about himself. Despite this, the great thing this man did was he listened to his conscience. Even though it took 60 years, eventually the guilt was enough to drive him to action.
Our culture seems to be similar to the culture in Jeremiah’s day. Notice what the Lord says about them, “‘Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time of their punishment they shall be brought down,’ Says the LORD” (Jeremiah 8:12). This people “didn’t know how to blush,” or in other words, they stopped listening to their consciences a long time ago. They were no longer embarrassed and bothered by sin.
Christians are becoming more like our culture, and Jeremiah’s, every day. Christians are less bothered by sin, less likely to come forward during the invitation for sin, and more likely to justify their sinful actions. God placed a conscience in us for a reason. He wants it to bother us. He wants us to feel guilty. Why? Because usually these feelings cause us to make changes. The real problem is when we don’t feel bad anymore. We can’t let ourselves get to that point.
Let’s learn to listen to our consciences more often. But most of all, when we feel the guilt of sin, let’s do something about it!