Chatty strangers are put on this earth to test impatient-bent Christians. Whether they catch us on a good or bad day, there seems to be an underlying urge to avoid them or be annoyed by them.
What makes a stranger open up to another stranger? We all desire a sense of connection. We all know what it’s like to feel lonely or tuned out in rudeness, anger, or indifference. But, in this age of everyone standing on their personal soapboxes, it’s so much easier to speak than to listen!
“Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily” (James 1:19.
Note that the apostle James mentions “everyone” in his reminder. That means we all can be quick to listen if we prayerfully work at it. And listening isn’t only hearing, but it’s “listening” to body language as well. We know the physical cues of people in need. Let’s slow down and listen. Let’s acknowledge their presence with Jesus’ presence in us—giving them our full attention and some precious time.
Doesn’t even a small moment of real human connection ring true for both parties and bring God glory?
The apostle Paul wrote, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing joint-testimony with me in the Holy Spirit . . .” (Romans 9:1).
Paul takes a triple oath here because of deep convictions regarding the salvation of the Jewish people. He makes a strong, positive affirmation in Christ, a negative statement that he is not lying, and the appeal to his conscience as a co-witness “in the Holy Spirit.” Paul looked to Christ and rejoiced; he looked at the Jewish people lost in sin and wept. Paul was willing to go to hell for the sake of his lost Jewish friends.
The conscience is that faculty of man that evaluates our actions, along with our thoughts that either accuse or excuse us of sin. Our conscience is an important part of human nature the world over. It is not an absolutely trustworthy indicator of what is right and wrong. We can have a “good” conscience (Acts 23:1); 1 Tim. 1:5, 19), a “clear” conscience (Acts 24:16; 1 Tim. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18), or a “guilty” conscience (Heb. 10:22), a “corrupted” conscience (Titus 1:15), a “weak” conscience (1 Cor. 8:7, 10, 12), or a “seared” conscience (1 Tim. 4:2).
The marvelous thing about the gospel is that “the blood of Christ” cleanses the conscience. The writer of Hebrews says, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14).
The conscience is the remains of God’s image in man after the fall of Adam. The universal fact of this inner voice is important. It is a divine law. Because we are sinners obedience to the voice of conscience must always be tested with an acceptance of the revealed will of God in the Scriptures (John 8:7-9; Rom. 2:15-16; 9:1; Titus 1:13-15).
The apostle Paul warned, “Nothing is wholesome to those who are themselves unwholesome and who have no faith in God—their very minds and consciences are diseased” (Tit. 1:15, Phillips). The conscience is defiled because the light from both it and the Holy Spirit are refused.
The conscience in the born-again believer is restored to its high position as the Christian studies and meditates on God’s revealed will in the Bible. For the mature Christian, the witness of the conscience will be met by the witness of the Holy Spirit as to what pleases God (Rom. 9:1). We should seek to continually have “a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16).
May the Holy Spirit cleanse the deepest recesses of our hearts by the infinite purification that God alone can accomplish by means of the blood of Jesus Christ. May He make us sensitive to the slightest whisper of His Holy Spirit. His Spirit gives us a sense of disquiet when we are tempted. He makes us hate anything that will separate us from abiding fellowship with God.
To maintain a good, clear conscience that is sensitive to the Spirit of God we must confess every sin that we are conscious of and walk in the light of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit always uses God’s Word to reveal sin to us. When the conscience reproves listen to it, and confess the sin to God, claim His forgiveness based on the atoning death of Christ. The blood of Jesus cleanses us of all sin. Pray that the witness of your conscience and the witness of the Holy Spirit and the abiding presence of being “in Christ” becomes one. Hold “to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9).