My conscience is a curious thing. Looking back, it has served me both nobly and regrettably. By no fault of its own, I’ve many times held it in great contempt. After all, what fun is making a morally corrupt decision if ones conscience keeps popping in like an unwelcome neighbor.
So I’ve noticed this. When I honor my conscience, it honors me. When I betray my conscience, I’m left to my own natural sense of morality – scary indeed.
Story. This afternoon, while driving out of Home Depot, I passed a ragged looking fellow holding a cardboard sign that read “homeless, veteran, help”. And regardless of being both a pastor and former Marine, my first thought was “just ignore him”. Feeling just a little guilty over my first thought, I quickly began to rationalize – “he’s probably not even a veteran”, “probably not even homeless”, “he’ll just go buy more booze if I give him money”.
By that time I had passed him and pulled onto the highway. That’s when it hit me. Although knowing the right thing to do, I justified around it in order to appease my own selfishness. I was betraying my conscience. I knew I should have given that guy my cash – I knew it!
I’ve made enough morally void decisions in the past to know that living with a dead conscience leads to a very dark place. Someplace I never want to return. So little by little I try to honor my conscience. Today I turned around, drove back, and gave him 10 bucks – a small price to pay for a functional conscience. Tomorrow it will likely be something entirely different.