Friday, January 14, 2011

What's your balance?

"Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people." (Acts 24:16)

Keep short accounts. These words were first uttered to me by a friend of mine who counsels. They are great words to live by. What do they mean? Think in terms of your bank account balance. You always want to make sure your deposits are greater than your withdrawals. Make too many withdrawals without enough deposits, and you'll soon be out of money...or worse, in debt. By keeping "short accounts," you are making sure that your deposit/debt ledger is never very long. And herein lies the key question; do we keep short accounts with God, and with others?

There are two main commands that God has for us. First, we are to love Him with everything we are. Second, we are to love each other. The "verb" in both of those commands is "love." It's an action. It's God's greatest desire. How do we know if we're succeeding in this? It's complicated, and ultimately God is the only just judge of our heart; however, I believe part of that answer is in that verse Paul uttered.

Strive to keep a clean conscience; first with God, and second with our human relationships. Or, to put it another way, keep short accounts with God first, and with others second.

With God; has He been trying to get your attention about something? Are you struggling with an addiction or sin issue? Do you find yourself, as Paul did early on, "kicking against the goads?" As a brief side-track, "goads" were used to prod cattle to move them forward. Often, the cattle would kick against them. Has God been trying to "goad" you forward, and you keep kicking against Him? Is your conscience clear before God?

But that's only half the equation. In some ways, the second half is harder. With God we have someone who always loves unconditionally and always forgives. With our human relationships we deal with people who don't love that way. We hold grudges, we get hurt easily, we have sensitive egos. All this can make it hard to keep short accounts with each other. But still, it is God's command. Is there someone you need to ask to forgive you, or someone you need to forgive? A friend you've hurt? Someone you owe something to? Do you have a clear conscience before men?

What a great day it will be when Christ comes back to take us to be with Him forever. I pray that I, and you, have a clear conscience with Him and each other on that day. Start today!

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