Some Native American groups had a very interesting way of instilling their young people with the idea of what we call the conscience. They stated that there was a triangle within one’s chest. When he/she did something that was wrong, the triangle would turn once, cutting the heart. When that person did something else wrong, it would turn again, and the point of the triangle would cut the heart again.
However, they also taught that, over time, one could do so many things that were wrong that the triangle could turn and turn, but it would no longer hurt the heart, because it was now calloused.
What a wonderful way to picture the conscience!
Our conscience is a God-given part of our existence, but the difficulty comes because we control it. We choose what will influence our conscience to remain a defense against evil or what will sear our conscience so that we do not feel pain when doing certain things.
Further, we can struggle to control our conscience because we have “pet” sins. We look at someone who is having an affair, or who has gone on a murderous rampage and we play the comparison game. I know I’m doing this (telling a little lie, looking at porn late at night, etc.), but I’m not doing something as bad as that! So our thinking goes.
Paul didn’t write about a triangle in the chest, but by inspiration he said that we can have our conscience seared as with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2). Over time, we just do not feel the same pain in our gut when we do “that” sin again…or even different sins.
How do we stop that triangle from turning? How do we stop that iron from searing our conscience? There are several answers, but they are really wrapped up in one thing.
Feed your conscience the Word of God.
A conscience must be directed, and if we are listening with openness and humility to the holy Scriptures, we are giving our conscience just what it needs to “pain” us when we sin, or even when we are tempted to go beyond what God has directed.
Let’s put the iron back on the shelf.
Let’s keep the triangle from turning.
Let’s keep a pure, God-directed conscience at all times.
QUESTION: What are some other, more specific, ways we can keep our conscience aware of sin?
Photo credit: Bill Jacobus on Creative Commons
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