A clear conscience
The apostle Paul wrote: “Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” 2 Timothy 1:3
Paul’s second letter to his young friend Timothy is deeply moving. Paul knew that he was close to death and was keen to do everything he could to encourage, strengthen and direct Timothy in his ministry. He knew that it was absolutely vital Timothy had a clear conscience. We all have a conscience, which helps us to know the difference between right and wrong. When we trudge through life with a guilty conscience, it is an oppressively heavy burden to bear. I’m sure that Paul’s colourful early life had left him with many sins and failures which weighed heavily on him, and it was out of relief that he could now declare, as a Christian, that he lived with a clear conscience.
There is a delightful German proverb which runs: “A good conscience is a soft pillow.” That is to say, we can sleep soundly when our conscience is clear. No wonder Paul was so keen that Timothy should share his experience of a clear conscience. He could then get on with his ministry without being dragged down by guilt and regret. George Washington, the first president of the USA, got to the heart of the matter when he wrote: “Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, conscience.”
The strength of Paul’s relationship with Timothy comes out very strongly in the opening sentences of this letter. He is longing to meet up again, recalling Timothy’s tears when they last said goodbye. Paul said that he would be full of joy when they could meet again. And the way in which he expressed his depth of relationship with Timothy was in prayer. He said that he prayed for Timothy night and day. Prayer was not a formal or occasional activity but a continual stream of loving care and concern. He longed for the best for Timothy and his prayers revealed his deep commitment to his young friend.
What are the most effective ways to maintain a clear conscience?
Lord God, help me to walk so closely to you that I will be able to serve you with a clear conscience. Amen