Read: Ezra 7:1-8:20, 1 Corinthians 4:1-21, Psalm 30:1-12, Proverbs 20:28-30
My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. (1 Corinthians 4:4)
Relate: Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. – Jim Horning Just a couple days ago I had the misfortune of watching a series supposedly professional comedians in NYC. One was great, one good, one was OK and two were just terrible. One of those terrible acts had the potential to be good except the guy really botched it right out of the gate.
Sometimes a comedian will first try to interact with the crowd to try to get a feel for their audience and what they respond to. This comedian pointed out a woman just to my right and asked her what she did. This large, assertive woman folded her arms and said, “I tend to my own business.” Apparently the poor guy on the stage didn’t know how to take a hint because he responds, “No seriously, what do you do for a living.” She ignores him, more than once but he keeps trying to reword the question and ask again. Finally, she squares her shoulders, glares at the little guy half her size and says, “I told you, my job is to mind my own business. Your job is to be a comedian. So go ahead, tell a joke. Make me laugh.” There is an awkward silence for about thirty seconds as it finally sinks in to the poor guy that he chose the wrong audience member to interact with.
Then he goes and compounds his mistake by trying to mock her to everybody else. He turns to the other side of the audience and says, “Can you believe how rude this woman is?” He then begins to pull out some of his “angry black woman” jokes. Nobody is laughing. It doesn’t help that he is so angry that he is almost visibly shaken. Clearly this guy felt justified in thinking he was the victim in the exchange. Clearly nobody else agreed.
React: That’s the way it is with me sometimes too. No matter how wrong I might be, it seems that my mind is always, like an expert lawyer, building my defense. Often it justifies what I have done, maintaining my innocence through some convoluted twisting of logic that doesn’t seem so convoluted to me. If complete innocence is impossible then it will work on either sharing or minimizing the guilt. (Often both). There is no end to the hoops my ego will jump through to try and keep my conscience clear.
That wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact I am constantly seeing how other people do the same thing. I want to just say to them, “You’re wrong. Just admit it.” Except I know the response will always be, “No I’m not because…” or “I know, but…”
Can you imagine Adolf Hitler at the Pearly Gates. St Peter asks, “Do you think you are innocent?” He answers, “Of course I am. Everything that went wrong… its the Jew’s fault.” St Peter responds, “Oh, OK. Come on in.” Thank God their own conscience isn’t the final arbiter of their ultimate innocence. But then I look in the mirror… dear God, my own conscience isn’t the final arbiter of my innocence either.
God, I have some really dumb ideas sometimes. What is even worse, I have some great rationalizations for why those ideas weren’t really so dumb. My mind is never harder at work than when it is trying to prove my innocence. I’m not innocent. I know this, but help me to truly recognize it. Help me to man up and say, “I am wrong. I’m sorry.” When it is necessary. Help me to be humble and teachable around others. Forgive my arrogance and help me to ever rely on Your wisdom and Your judgment.